Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Gay Friday & Merry Christmas

Not a Happy Gay Friday picture today, but a HGF video that I found at the website. It’s originally from the gaytube site, which was new to me (I swear) and definitely NSFW. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;)

I’ve been busy this week with rounding up things at work, packing for our trip to New York and guest blogging at Stella’s place at Ex Libris. If you’re curious about how I started reading romance you can find my guest post here. Stella’s place is worth the visit, she has this wonderful feature called “Spot On” (this time it’s ‘Spot On Romance’) in which you can win some great prizes.

To end this busy week on a high note we’re going to spend Christmas day tomorrow with our family, eating, drinking and talking and some more eating…
And then Sunday we’re flying to New York City, woohooo! I don’t know if I have the time or the internet connection to post from NY next week (and I haven’t prepared any posts in advance of course), so I might not be back on the blog before January the 4th.

I’m wishing you all a Merry Christmas and (in case I won’t be online in time) a Fabulous New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Guest Review: Texas Tangle by Leah Braemel

Leah Braemel
Texas Tangle
Carina Press, 2010

Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an over-drawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy.

Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart.

Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Genre & Keywords:
M/F/M, Menage, Cowboys, Foster-brothers

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 3 out of 3 flames

*Review copy received from the publisher through Netgalley*

Guest review by Lis:

Wooooweeeee. Where can I find a pair of these sexy as sin, hot as hell cowboys as described in this book? Hot damn people. The times I wanted to switch places with Nikki, the female lead in this story. This sure is a story to keep you warm on a cold December night!

Oh right, you don't know what I'm talking about yet! Texas Tangle is the story of Nikki, Dillon and Brett. Nikki is on the down and out after a no good, dead beat ex hubby and a self-centered, egotistical and thieving brother left her. Not to mention her bible waving and quoting parents.

Brett and Dillon are foster brothers. Brett came to live with Dillon’s family at a young age after he was almost beaten to death by his drunk father. He now is a cop in the small Texas town and not to mention stubborn. Dillon is the knight (or cowboy) in a black hat who is responsible, caring, problem solving, loving and hot as hell. They're both good neighbors (where can I find neighbors like this?!) to Nikki and have been there for her since before she got married to that no good ex-hubby of hers.

It is not a complex story. More than anything else, the focus is on the relationship between the three and how it should work out and some problems from the past. The fun part is that the suggestion for a permanent menage-relationship comes from the grandmother.

What I missed in this story is depth. Yes there is depth in the conflict between the three on how everything should work, but that's it. Of course, the story involves a lot of hot, screen-melting and very imaginative sex scenes. Because of the tunnel-focus on the relationship, I missed a bit of the surroundings, support characters and the general world building. It is mentioned that Nikki works with horses, but we almost never get to read about her handling the horses. Brett is a cop, yet we never get to really see him do cop things. Just as Dillon is a landscaper and we never get to see him get all dirty.

While the story reaches a satisfactory ending (yes it is a HEA), it sort of leaves the story unfinished. Not in a bad way, but we never get to see their relationship evolve. There were also some issues that, while minor, were never talked through. The small subplot, in the form of her thieving brother, never reaches the end I thought it should have gotten. If my brother took off with all my stuff and 19 creditcards in my name, there was no place for him to hide where I would not find him and beat the living shit out of him. Then again, I'm a little more vengeful than Nikki.

This story is a nice, lovely read. It restored some of my faith in m/f books. I'm a strong believer in strong female leads. While Nikki wasn't really much of one, nor reaches the full potential of one, you do see glimpses. That was enough for me.

Now if you're looking for a melt-you-in-a-puddle-of-goo book to curl up on a cold night, then Texas Tangle is definitely the book for you!

Leah Braemel’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook
Buy Texas Tangle here


Monday, December 20, 2010


The guys from have done their job this morning. The two winners of William Cooper’s books are:

who won
Texan Summer

who won
I'll Be Home

Congratulations Lily and Elaing8!! I’ll email you about your prize.
Many thanks to William for donating his books for this giveaway!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nice or Naughty Weekend, part 3

Again I've spent a part of my weekend reading a bunch of seasonal stories from the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar set. I can really recommend doing this, it's very entertaining. The Christmas or holiday elements in these stories make them very enjoyable and cute. Here are my thoughts on a few of them.

Revelations of the Heart
Lori C. Hawkins
Purchase link
3 stars

This story starts promising but then ends a bit rushed and slightly predictable. Owner of a flowershop, Danny, is single and facing a lonely Christmas. He would like to find a nice man to spend Christmas with, and maybe the rest of his life. His friend and co-owner, Amy, is willing to help him hook up with a man she knows, the lawyer Kent. Coincidentally Danny meets a sexy man himself on the same day: Sean, a former Marine. He starts to see both men. Complications are ahead of him.
Who he's going to end up with is not a big surprise, even when the author tries to mislead us. It's not about the outcome in this story but about the way that leads to the outcome and that's nicely done, although I thought it felt a bit schematic and rushed. Nevertheless, Revelations of the Heart is a pretty good read, but this particular story probably could've been great, instead of just good with a few more pages.

"I use the flower code all the time when I do bouquets for my clients. There are the obvious ones, of course, like red roses, but my favorite is purple lilac for 'love’s first blush'."

Dawn Kimberly Johnson
Purchase link
3 stars

Mick is a shy guy living a quiet life as a gay man who still feels the hurt of his family rejecting him after his coming out. His seasonal job as a window-shop model suits him perfectly: standing still all say, quietly observing the outside world. Until one day a handsome man takes a good look at him. This man's gaze is making it hard for Mick to stay still.
This is a well-written, sweet, seasonal story, which is actually no more than what might be the beginning of a lovely romance. The protags don't really touch, let alone kiss - it's all about a mental (and magical) connection. It almost is a modern fairy tale (the first window display Mick's a part of, is in fact a fairy tale setting). When the church clock is beating the twelve chimes on New Year's Eve the story reaches its climax. Rather classic and in its sort a pretty good and enjoyable story.

It took every ounce of willpower not to move, not to react, and luckily, the stranger was currently captivated by some of the pricey gifts displayed beneath the tree.

The Hanukkah Surprise
Rebecca Lynne Fullan
Purchase link
3.5 stars

This is a story about a couple that has been together for a while. The opening scene shows them in bed in the morning, David watching his sleeping boyfriend, Andrew, while playing with himself at the sight of his beauty. After their morning romp they head off for a three day vacation, which is a surprise from David for Andrew. But Andrew is not big on surprises, and in the end David ends up the one being surprised.
I enjoyed this one for its cute and very hot couple, the small emotional layer in the story, and the playful and humorous elements. In the small amount of pages it's made very clear how great these men are together, how their characteristics complement each other's personalities. I thought this was done very well. My only complaint is that the story ended rather abruptly, with a few unanswered questions left (or maybe I'm the only one thinking there was something more to the missing keys and the unexpected presence of the stuffed moose...). Overall, a good short story and a pleasant way of spending my time.

Andrew was something like a forest, he thought. Seeming serene and quiet, but also full of secret life, chipmunks and rabbits and even wolves. He would like it in the woods. He would be able to relax, slowly unraveling his thoughts into ease.

Ice Around the Edges
Mary Calmes
Purchase link
3.5 stars

Evan is recovering from being shot at the shelter where he works when his first boyfriend, Dixon, comes to visit him unexpectedly. Ten years ago they broke up over a misunderstanding and now Dixon wants him back. But the reason of their break-up is still a bit of a problem.
As I've seen in other books by Mary Calmes, one of the heroes is pretty much of a macho. In fact, in this case I found Dixon to be a bit of an (over)confident ass. And there's nothing wrong with that, because it can bring some amusing friction the a story. But I have to admit that it was difficult for me to rhyme the confidence and egotism of the 'present Dixon' with the cowardliness of the 'past Dixon'. I'm not completely satisfied with how Evan and Dixon dealt with the past mistake. Other than that this was a great story: well-written, entertaining, hot and engrossing.

I had kissed the man a million times, and each and every time, it made my blood race, pulse pound, and my skin go up in flames. The whimper rose up out of me as his tongue swept inside my mouth. And the way his lips sealed so perfectly to mine, the way I was devoured, the sound he made in the back of his throat, I understood that his ache for me was as bad as mine for him.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Gay Friday, New York & the TBR dilemma

The past week flew by. And I wasn’t even having that much fun…
In fact, I spent too much time to my liking being tired and at the doctor’s and the blood lab. When you know that I haven’t been to the doctor’s in the past 5 years, not even once, then you can understand that a few hours was way too long for me, lol!
The doc didn’t know why my lymph node is still that swollen, so she ordered a blood and ultra sound examination (I’m not sure how’s it called in English, it’s something radiological) to exclude a lymphoma.
But you know what? Today the lump felt smaller already. Figures, right? I probably could’ve spared me the trip to the doctor’s and the lab, through the snow. *sigh*
Good thing I couldn’t get an appointment for the ultra sound until the first week of January. So maybe I can skip that one: By the time I have to go, I expect the lump to be gone completely. :)

On a more cheerful note, hubs and I are starting to get excited about our trip to New York City in only 9 days! It’s something we really look forward to, because we’re still going to be there on New Year’s Eve. I hope there won’t be a blizzard or something that will prevent us from landing at JFK airport, but otherwise I’m kinda hoping for a bit of snow. I don’t know, it just seems so romantic to be there together when everything is covered in snow and serene. Yeah, I’m a romantic sap, what’s new? ;D
How about you, are you taking off a few extra days from work or other obligations, the next couple of weeks? Have you planned something special with the Holidays or on New Year’s Eve?

Btw I started to make a list of books that I wanted to take with me on our trip, exclusively. I thought it would be a good opportunity to read a few books that have been on my TBR for a while now. All books that I bought because I really wanted to read them. And all books that I don’t necessarily have to review, only when I want to. But wow, the list seems endless… I stopped selecting when I reached book #70. No way I’m going to read that many books in one month, let alone in one week!
That brings me to the question: how do you choose what to read next from the giant TBR pile?? I’m always struggling with that, so I’m really curious.

Have a Happy Gay Friday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: Tooth & Nail by Mary Calmes

Mary Calmes
Tooth & Nail
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

Tooth & Nail is book #2 in the Warder series. It's not necessary to read the first book in this series - His Hearth - but it'll give you a better comprehension of the world building and some of the other characters in this second book (especially Ryan and Julian from book #1 who reappear in this book).
*This review may contain spoilers for His Hearth.*

Nineteen-year-old Dylan Shaw is possibly the most beautiful thing Malic Sunden has ever seen. After Malic rescues Dylan from an attack, Dylan makes it very clear that he is more than interested, but Malic won’t even consider sleeping with Dylan because of his age. Malic is sure he’s not good enough for Dylan, who has his whole life ahead of him, and can’t conceive of burdening Dylan with his secrets.

But the darkness in Malic’s life won’t be denied, and soon Dylan is drawn into the dangerous paranormal world that is Malic’s reality. Malic fights tooth and nail to push Dylan away, to keep him safe… no matter that Dylan is the key to Malic’s strength and the only hope for his future.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Paranormal, Demon Hunting, Destiny, Action

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

*I received a review copy from the publisher*

The leading man of Tooth & Nail, Malic, already played a very small part in the previous book His Hearth. Now he's the narrator of this own story. He's a big grumpy badass alpha warrior and he doesn't 'believe' in love or finding his 'hearth' as Ryan has with Julian (in book #1). That's not meant for him he thinks. In fact, it gives him the creeps: "The very idea made me crave lots and lots of air and wide open spaces. Love, in all its many forms, seemed more about control to me than anything else. I would fight to make sure it never got a hold of me."

But then he meets Dylan, a cute little twink, with big brown anime eyes and adorable curly hair, dressed as an angel. The circumstance under which they first meet, makes Dylan fall head over heels in love with Malic, and he tries to seduce him. But Malic thinks Dylan is way too young and he's afraid he might hurt Dylan badly by sleeping with him, literally. Because he’s a warder, which means he can only sleep with a few people who won't get hurt physically, most others will age five years or even die from the energetic contact. So, he rejects Dylan.

But Dylan is quite the pushy little twink and he doesn't give up. I admit that I thought he is a great character, I loved him in all his cuteness and my heart went out to him. He is unrelenting in his pursue but Malic keeps resisting his advances (for all the wrong reasons of course). This goes on for quite a while and meanwhile we also follow Malic on a few of his fights, each of which is quite vividly described and compelling in itself. Especially a scene with a little girl who got kidnapped by a demon was written well and had me engrossed very much.

When Malic finally gives in and kisses his angel Dylan there's no going back and we are treated to a very hot scene with scorching smexing and some more cuteness.
Until the end Malic tries to maintain his grumpiness but he realizes he’s failing: ““Yeah,” I said, trying to sound irritable and annoyed but failing miserably. I was too damn happy.” And I couldn’t help but chuckle when he thinks: “Oh yeah, the whole Everett clan was there to witness my fall from badass warder to big romantic sap.”, because, of course, everyone else (including the reader) already knew, except him.

The playful banter between the insistent, cute hero and the irritable, grumpy hero was definitely one of the enjoyable parts of this story. Maybe some might find these heroes too stereotypical, but I just loved them! And the author’s choice to tell this story in first person from Malic’s point of view is in my opinion a perfect one. This way we could witness not only his downfall from ‘badass warder to big romantic sap’ very closely, but also enjoy some of the suspenseful demon hunting action as if we were on the first row of the theater.

The books in the Warder series (so far) are not full-length novels but a little longer than a novella. This makes them easy to pick up while they still give you more than enough satisfaction when it comes to plot development and character depth. Especially when you enjoy a little paranormal twist to your reading material without it being too overwhelming, I can highly recommend this series.

Mary Calmes’s weblog | on Goodreads
Buy Tooth & Nail here


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ebook Giveaway: Texan Summer and I’ll Be Home by William Cooper

Today author William Cooper is celebrating the release of his newest ebook I’ll Be Home (happy release day, William!) and only recently another one of his books came out, Texan Summer. Both are m/m stories. He’s letting us share in the celebration by offering a copy of both ebooks for a giveaway to two lucky winners.
His stories will especially appeal to those who like their romances to be non-angsty. William revealed in an interview with author Rowan Speedwell to “prefer non-angsty reads and stories that aren’t heavily focused on sex every two pages, so that’s what I tend to write.”

Here’s a little bit more information about the books:

Texan Summer

Collin and Dylan aren't your average brothers - they've been completely in love with each other since they were teens. After their father catches them kissing on the night of their high school graduation, the twins find themselves homeless and on their own.
Six years later, the two brothers have graduated from college and moved on with their lives. But one day, out of the blue, they get a call from their mother. Their father has had a heart attack and she wants them to return home. The journey back to their conservative Texas town causes all of the old hurt and heartache to rise to the surface.
Will the trip home end in more heartache, or a long yearned for reconciliation?
CONTENT ADVISORY- This book contains incest between brothers.


June 2004

I looked over at Dylan as we walked into the house. "Race you upstairs?"
He flashed me one of his killer smiles. "You're on!"
We broke out into a sprint toward the stairs. I could picture Mom shaking her head at us. If it hadn't been our graduation night, she would've scolded us for running in the house.
"You boys hurry up! Your mom made cake, and you know she won't let me have any until you get back!" Dad yelled after us.
"We will!" I promised.
I barely beat Dylan into our shared bedroom. I smiled at him before sticking out my tongue. Dylan laughed and flipped me off in return. Once the door shut, we both started stripping off our dress clothes. It was June, and the heat was ridiculously high outside. Wearing dress clothes all evening had us soaked to the bone in our own sweat.
When I glanced up at Dylan, he had stripped down to only his black dress pants. His torso had already become tanned from walking around shirtless. I grinned and walked over to him. "You look so sexy like that," I whispered into his ear when I wrapped my arms around him.
Dylan chuckled before turning around to face me. "You look pretty damn sexy, too."
I smiled and pressed my lips against his. Dylan eagerly opened his mouth, inviting my tongue inside. Both our cocks had gotten rock hard, and we ground them together, all thoughts of cake and our parents flitting from my mind. I was close to coming when our bedroom door opened.
"Collin, what's taking you and Dylan so long…? What the hell are you two doing?" My father pounded his fist against the wall so hard our pictures began to rattle on the walls.
Dylan and I jumped apart, our cocks still tenting our pants. "D-d-dad… I can explain…"
Dad's face turned an angry red as he clenched his jaw. "I don't want to hear any of your damn excuses. That was disgusting. Pack your shit and get the hell out of here, you sick freaks."
"But Dad!" I protested.
Dad raised his arm like he was going to strike me. I flinched, expecting a blow; instead, he just stalked out of our room. We heard the front door slam and his truck pull out of the driveway a minute later. Tears began to escape from my eyes. When I turned to face Dylan, he had gone deathly pale and sweat and tears were dripping off of his cheeks.
I pulled him into my arms and held him. Dylan buried his face into my shoulder and started crying. "I'm so sorry, Dy. I'm so, so sorry." God… what the hell are we going to do now?

I'll Be Home

Since getting together romantically with his best friend Blake on the Fourth of July, Cameron hasn't seen his new boyfriend in three months. Blake's attending college in Seattle, and dealing with a cross-country romance has its challenges—nightly phone calls aren't enough to ease Cam's fears that a sexy sorority girl will snare Blake's interest. With Christmas approaching, Blake is home for the holidays, but the only thing Cam really wants for Christmas—Blake's presence—is a gift he knows can't last.


When I opened the front door, my jaw dropped and my heart rate picked up. It sure as hell wasn’t a salesman.

“Hey, Cam,” the tall man standing at the door said.

It took a minute before the shock wore off and my brain was able to function again. I squealed and wrapped my arms around his waist, causing him to stumble backward. “Oh my God, Blake! What are you doing here?”

Blake laughed and hugged me back. “I came to see my boyfriend.” He leaned down and pressed his lips against mine. “I haven’t seen him in a couple months.”

Once the immediate rush of adrenaline from seeing Blake wore off, I was able to look him over closely. He had changed a lot since the last time I had seen him. His hair had grown longer; it was no longer cropped in a buzz cut, but now hung down to his ears. And his eyes were still gorgeous—deep chocolate brown and full of mirth. He grinned, showing off a smile that never failed to melt my heart.

I laughed and pulled Blake inside, kicking the door shut behind us. “You didn’t tell me you were coming home for winter break! I assumed you were going to stay out in Seattle again.” I couldn’t stop grinning as I looked at Blake. Seeing him suddenly made me forget my annoyance at being bothered on my day alone.

“I missed you.” Blake chewed on his bottom lip. “You’re not mad at me for not telling you in advance, are you?”

Seeing Blake show nervousness made him look even sexier. He normally had confidence oozing from his pores. The rare times when he was vulnerable were priceless. “No, I’m not mad. I’m thrilled!” I leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.

William Cooper’s website | on Goodreads

Buy Texan Summer here
Buy I’ll Be Home here


William Cooper has generously offered an ebook copy of both Texan Summer and I’ll Be Home to give away to two lucky winners. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post for a chance to win and let me know if you have a preference for either one of the two titles.

This giveaway is open to everyone, I will announce the winner on Monday, December 20, so be sure to leave your comment before that and don’t forget to check back then or leave a way for me to contact you in your comment or profile.

Good luck to you all!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest Review: Counterpoint by Rachel Haimowitz

Rachel Haimowitz
Guiltless Pleasure Publishing, 2010

Counterpoint is book #1 in the Song of the Fallen series. The second book has the same main characters and will be released in 2011.

It is the twilight of mankind. Depleted by generations of war with a dark race, the human kingdoms and their ancient alliance stand on the brink of extinction. The outlands are soaked with the blood of the fallen. The midlands are rotting with decadence and despair.
Elfkind, estranged by past crimes, watches and waits for nature to run its course.
And then the two collide.
Ayden's life has long been guided by two emotions: love for his sister, and hatred of all things human. When he's captured in battle, he must for his sister's sake swallow his pride and endure slavery in the service of a human prince. To his dismay, this close-up view of his enemy is nothing like he expected. Now curiosity and contempt make a battlefield of his soul, even as he struggles to pick up the pieces of his shattered worldview.
Freyrik Farr, Crown Prince of Farr Province, finds his new elven prisoner puzzling. He's always known elves to be beautiful and dangerous, but never has one affected him as deeply as Ayden. Can his life of service to his people leave room for this attraction? Dancing on a dagger's edge between duty and high treason, Freyrik discovers that some choices can change a life, and some an entire world.
Between prejudice, politics, pride, and survival, Ayden and Freyrik must carve a new path, no matter how daunting. For nothing less than the fate of both their peoples rests on the power of their perseverance -- and their love.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Dark Fantasy, Elves, Slavery, War, Kingdoms

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

*Review copy received from the author*

Guest review by Lis:

So. Counterpoint. Song of the Fallen. Yes that is the book. Starring Freyrik Farr, Crown Prince of Farr Province, and Ayden, Elf. Ranger and the most stubborn elf I've ever met. What to say about them? Because that is sure not an easy feat. Every now and then you encounter a book that has you puzzled and firmly on a fence with your legs swinging indecisively on either side of the fence.

So. Counterpoint. On the one hand, or should I say leg, I want to tell all the wonderful things about this book. Tell you this is a fantastic read that is definitely recommended. On the other hand or leg, I want to tell you that this book frustrated the hell out of me. That I put it away several times and that it has the shittiest ending of all endings.

When Janna asked me to review this book, I was expecting a fantasy read in the style of Lord of the Rings or Feist' Magician. Only with gay characters of course. It's not. It's fantasy, but it is something different and more darker than your average high fantasy read. It is something to be appreciated. Thought went into creating the dark fantasy setting and the themes in this book.

The main characters, Freyrik and Ayden are stereotypes as characters – with Freyrik as the king/temporary ruler/master with a compassionate nature and Ayden as the slave stubbornly holding on to his sense of self and freedom and his prejudices at the same time – and they are not, because both characters do things that that don't belong to their stereotype but uniquely to the character itself. The supporting characters are only there to play a role, but somehow it seems fitting for this story. In the end it is all about Freyrik and Ayden. Not Freyrik the rules and warrior and Ayden the elf, ranger and now slave.

The author has a way with words and she weaves a long and intriguing story with several turns and ups and downs. She takes her time for Freyrik to win Ayden's trust and for Ayden to overcome some of his prejudices and adjust to his new situation of being a (bed)slave. I loved Ayden's wit. This is something I talked about before, but sometimes authors don't give their characters a unique voice and they speak/talk the same as all the other characters in the story. While in real life everyone has their own little quirks in speech. Words we like to use over others. This author mastered that well.

What has me fence sitting is in part the sense of doom that is always present in this story and the romance that isn't quite yet a romance because it starts fairly late in the story and is in the end underdeveloped because, yes, the ending. Gah! That would be my biggest problem. Here you go writing an extensive story that you know can't be fitted into one book and you just have to stop there?! And of course, make us wait more than a year for the sequel? Not fair missy! It's like walking down the road, trying to find your way, when suddenly the road is gone. This bothered me more than the violent scene at the end that pissed me of to no end and made me ashamed of being human. It actually made me put aside the book till curiosity didn't kill the cat, but me, almost.

So. Counterpoint. I'm still fence sitting here. Therefore if you truly want to know what this review is all about, you just have to pick the book up yourself!

Rachel Haimowitz’s weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter
Buy Counterpoint here


Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday’s Hot Couple & Coming Up this week

This week no sexy scene, because somehow my reading is all over the place these days!
I don’t know why but so far this has been an odd month for me. I’m reading a lot and I even manage to squeeze in writing some reviews as well. But I’m so very tired. I’ve had the flu a few weeks back and now I’m still not my old self. I have this funny swollen lymph node in my groin and the doctor thinks it’s a result of that flu, my immune system working over time or something. But my whole hip area aches.
And I’m so tired. I know I’m repeating myself… but it’s just not like me to be tired and fall asleep before midnight and sleep for 9 to 10 hours in a row. I’m used to stay behind the computer until late and then read until 2 or 3 a.m. and getting up after 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Now I’m missing four whole hours each day! O_o
Wouldn’t that upset you a bit too?

Okay, enough of the whining. LOL. Luckily I can lean on my guest reviewer and friend Lis to fill in for me every now and then. :)
  • Tomorrow Lis will be here to review Counterpoint by Rachel Haimowitz.
  • Wednesday I’m hosting a giveaway for two ebooks by William Cooper, and
  • Thursday I’m posting a review of Tooth & Nail by Mary Calmes.
  • Friday will be Happy Gay Friday as usual.

I hope you’ll be back to show Lis and William some love!

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nice or Naughty Weekend, part 2

I spent my weekend reading a few more of the short stories and novellas from Dreamspinner's Advent Calendar Set 2010. Which turned out to be very enjoyable!

Better With Sprinkles
Chrissy Munder
3 stars

Better With Sprinkles is an entertaining little story which is more focused on the relationship between the two roommates and friends Tom and Derek, than it’s on the romance between Tom and Isaac. Tom is studying hard and all serious, with not much of a love life. Derek knows Tom has a crush on his former TA, Isaac, and helps Tom to reconnect with Isaac by luring him in to baking cookies for the LGBTA centre. The baking has a central place in this story which takes place in the centre together with lots of other people. And then Isaac joins them. It's obvious that the men like each other, but it's been told not shown. We don't even get a kiss scene (let alone a sex scene) to make us feel the attraction. Not one touch, nothing. There is a HEA but again it's only told. The last pages aren't for Tom and Isaac but for Tom and Derek.
So, it's not really a romantic story - and forget about the erotic part at all - although it does convey a strong message about safe sex (the baking is for the centre's annual fund raising for more awareness for HIV). Nice gesture: The recipe for Tom's grandmother's famous cookies is included at the end of the story. :)

Tom bit his tongue when Isaac’s polite smile turned sly and just a little bit wicked, and he immediately saved the mental image to his fantasy-Isaac collection for later use.

Christmas Bells
Andi Deacon
Purchase link
4 stars

Another book with a free recipe is Christmas Bells, a wonderful Christmas spirited story about a caring family, the Bells. Oldest brother Jon is the main character and narrator of this story. His brother Erik brings a college friend home with him for the holidays. Kim is gay, like Jon, but his family kicked him out when he told them. There's an instant attraction between the two men, but Jon's brother asked him to not make a pass at Kim... And thus a nice building of admiration and friendship starts. For such a short story the characters were amazingly well pictured, not only the leading men but also the other family members. The warmth and love in the Bells family was great. That made this a very enjoyable read and a sweet romance (at least the start of one). There's one wonderful sexy scene, under the lights of the Christmas tree. Hot. Overall, this was an engaging short story.

“Come on, Jon,” Eric huffed. “I saw you pinging him with your gaydar from across the room.”

Christmas With Danny Fit
Amy Lane
Purchase link
4 stars

This novella has a likeable and original love couple. Kit is a thirty-year old virgin, who recently moved out of his mother's home and is for the first time in his life falling in lust and love. Danny Fit is the object of his lust, he's a fitness guru who made work-out DVD’s and Kit is lusting after his image on the television screen. In real life his new assistant at the office, Jesse, is catching his attention and as the story unfolds Jesse becomes the object of his love. Jesse's hurtful youth makes him yearn for a reliable person in his life. Kit's kind awkwardness is a magnet for him. A cute love story develops between the two of them.
I enjoyed the novelty of the personalities in this story the most. It's an interesting read because of the unusual choice of heroes. Plot wise it's not spectacular, no ups and downs, no angst or hurt, just a steady development of the relationship between the two men. Christmas With Danny Fit is a sweet novella that I can recommend.

Kit encircled Jesse’s shoulders, feeling the urge to protect him. He’d been hurt by life, Kit realized, and Kit was afraid enough of life to want to keep him safe—and to think he was incredibly brave.

The First
Rachel West
Purchase link
4.5 stars

The First is a beautiful story about a first time. The main characters are two fairly young guys who are for the first time in love and never had gay sex before. Especially Jimmy, from whose point of view we're hearing their story (in third person), is scared for their first time – for getting more intimate than just sharing hot kisses. His boyfriend Adam gets frustrated of waiting (for four months now) and gets drunk at a Christmas party, which causes a fight between the boyfriends, and worse.
Through Jimmy's thoughts and conversation in his head with Adam we learn all about their relationship, break-up and the hurt. I really liked this choice of narration, of following Jimmy on the day of New Year's Eve, doing some shopping, running into Adam's sister, while having all the flashbacks to his and Adam's first meeting, first kiss, first 'I love you's', first fight, etc.
And then New Year's Eve comes: Jimmy and Adam are both set up by Adam's sister and finally meet again after the big break-up. And, boy oh boy, do they get steamy! First there's a steamy fight and then there's an even more steamy making-up. They make up for all the lost time and the four month long built-up passion is freed at last. Very sexy and hot, but also so darn sweet because it's all new to them, it’s just one big journey of discovery. I loved this well-written story and wouldn't mind seeing more of this couple in a sequel!

“Not to sound like too much of a girl, but what are you thinking?”
Jimmy’s brain was too fried for shyness. When he opened his mouth, the truth spilled out. “I’m thinking that I’m a complete fucking idiot to have waited four whole months to get you into my bed.”


Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Gay Friday & Reading Challenges

While browsing through my Google Reader the past couple of weeks I noticed that all kinds of interesting Reading Challenges for 2011 are ‘born’ again. A lot of them are related to romance and some really tempted me to join them, but since I still haven’t figured out how to leave comments via Google Reader (is that even possible? I really would like to know if it is!) I postponed the joining. And since I haven’t spent much time behind the computer due to all kinds of reasons, I still haven’t joined a single one of them yet. And now, I think that I won’t do it at all either.

As you may or may not know, I did do a few Challenges this year (they’re listed at the bottom of my right sidebar). And only one of them was really challenging – that’s probably why I failed to complete that one ;). The others were fairly easy to complete for me, because they were obviously all very much in my comfort zone. That made me think about the Challenges for 2011. What would be the point of joining Challenges that are again in my comfort zone? Not very challenging, huh? So, what then? Should I join Challenges that would really make me work for it? Why would I do that, what’s the fun of that? I read romance to relax and to enjoy myself, not to work my ass off.

So, maybe it’s the nagging after-flu headache that’s keeping me company for too long, but I suddenly couldn’t see the point anymore of joining any of the Reading Challenges. At all.

That’s why I decided that 2011 will be a reading-challenges-free year for me! Yay!

What about you? Did you do any Reading Challenges in 2010 and are you planning on joining any in 2011?

Hope you all have a Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Kindling Fire with Snow by Kate McMurray

Kate McMurray
Kindling Fire with Snow
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

Weathermen are predicting an incredible blizzard for New York City, but with old snow melting on the sidewalk, Seth Roland is a little skeptical. Despite moping over his ex-boyfriend Evan, who recently dumped him, Seth pretends all is well as he steps into his regular local bar, where he’s surprised by a blast from his past. Enter Kieran O'Malley, Seth’s very first boyfriend, in the city for a conference.

It might have been just a chance meeting, but first a train derailment and then the predicted blizzard keep Seth and Kieran in close proximity. It’s enough time for old feelings to surface, rekindled attraction to take hold, and new hopes for a future together to fill them both. But once the storm passes, the real challenge begins. Will Seth and Kieran work to make the relationship last, or will they let it melt away like snow in the sun?

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Contemporary, New York, Snowstorm, Rekindled love

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher

This novella tells the story of two thirty-year-old guys, Seth and Kieran, who run into each other in a New York bar. When they were seventeen they knew each other and had a crush on each other. They shared their first kisses and innocent orgasms together and lost touch when they went to college. Now, thirteen years later, they meet again by accident and have to spend some time together due to an upcoming snowstorm.

From alternating points of view we learn about their shared past, their present lives and most importantly about their current feelings and attraction for the other man. After meeting in the bar they end up in Seth's apartment where they act on their mutual, still present attraction. And yes, their chemistry is very good! Their love making is sweet and hot.

Thanks to this author's fluent writing, nice character building (for such few pages) and vivid portraying and picturing of the setting, I truly enjoyed this story. I could feel the cold and the snow in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I could feel the attraction between the heroes. The only thing I had to work a bit harder for to picture it, was the scene in the bathtub. I liked that choice of setting quite a lot, but was wondering about the position of some limbs during the smexy time.

Kindling Fire with Snow is the first book I read by this author and it's a really nice surprise. Ms McMurray's pleasant writing style and ability to draw you into the story with just a few well-placed words and sentences make me want to read more from her. A quick search on Goodreads shows that she has written at least one other m/m book: In Hot Pursuit a romantic suspense that I already marked as to-buy. Now I only have to find the time to read it...

Kate McMurray’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter

Buy Kindling Fire with Snow here


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: L.A. Caveman by Christina Crooks

Christina Crooks
L.A. Caveman
Self published, 2010

When corporate reorganization strikes, spirited journalist Stanna keeps her job but discovers her struggle has only begun. The workplace becomes a sizzling environment as she battles her macho, hard-bodied new boss for control of the Men's Weekly column. She's determined to reform him. He's determined to train her. Neither wants to acknowledge the electrifying attraction that pulls at them both.

Genre & Keywords:
M/F, Contemporary, Men’s Magazine, Columnist, Macho vs Feminist

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the author


L.A. Caveman has an interesting premise: a woman in a men's world has to deal with her macho, chauvinistic new boss who happens to look yummy. Despite their initial hate for each other and huge difference of opinion the hero and heroine feel attracted to each other.
The author takes her time introducing Stanna and Jake and doesn't rush the physical attraction into the story. I liked that a lot. The character building is done carefully and the protags gradually get more layers and start to become three dimensional.
There's some hot kissing and then a retreat, followed by some more kissing and another retreat. And eventually there's some tender love making. And yet another retreat. The hesitant and cautious relationship building is due to the professional difference of opinion which still exists when the smexy time creeps up on the main characters. So far, I was completely engrossed in this love story and I could relate to the characters. I might have liked a slightly more creative approach of the feminist vs macho column conflict, but the story was heading to a solid 4, if not 4.5, stars read.

Unfortunately, then Stanna did something that felt completely out of character to me: putting on sexy clothes and seducing Jake while their professional conflict was at its highest. And to top it off, Jake reacted totally inconsistent as well, given his trust issues with women. I was so disappointed by this turn of events. And from that point on the story took another few unlikely twist and turns. For example, I couldn't see the logic behind Jake's step to give Stanna her so called feminist column back while it still went against everything he believed in. Is it because the magazine turned out to make big profits before Jake's changes after all? Who says the profits were related to Stanna's column? Or is it something else? What happened to his believes? It's not clear to me.

Additionally I found the wrap up of the storyline involving Ian (the former, discharged editor who wants his job back for some dubious reasons) not particularly satisfying. He was not only a little over the top as a bad guy, but I also didn't like the main characters' easy attitude regarding his embezzlement, while they seemed to have higher moral standards than that.
And a last little niggle: there are a handful of very short intermezzos involving Telly (Stanna's roommate). Telly’s encounters with different - very strange - men are described and her search for Mr Right finally results in finding him in a unexpected place. These silly little interruptions seem rather pointless since they're not really related to Stanna and Jake's story. Stanna and Telly don't even talk about them.

Aside from these dislikes there are also enough things I liked. Apart from the aspects I already mentioned in the first paragraph, this story does have some other good stuff to offer. What's very pleasant is how Ms Crooks knows to describe a situation in such a way that it's instantly clear what we're dealing with. Setting, body language, conversation are all vividly unfolding in front of you, to form a colorful, informative picture. Her writing style is lucid and not overly descriptive, yet illuminating.
Another part I enjoyed a lot, is the description of the hot kissing and sexy smexing. These hot moments had the right amount of tenderness and arousal and were showing us the feelings and thoughts from both the male and female perspective. Just how I like the sexy moments in my romances.

Overall, it feels like I've read the work of two different authors with the first and the second part of this book. Based on the first half I would certainly want to pick up another book by this author - it had a lot of ingredients I like in a romance (character driven romance junkie that I am). But based on the second half of the book I would pause shortly before clicking the Buy-button. I guess the only way to find out which of the two authors I'll get with a next book, is just to take the jump and hope that it's the author of the first half of L.A. Caveman. Because in that case it'll be more than worth the money.

Christina Crooks’s website | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook

Buy L.A. Caveman here


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: A Shared Range by Andrew Grey

Andrew Grey
A Shared Range
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

After a year in medical school, Dakota Holden returned home to take care of the family business full time and help his father cope with multiple sclerosis. Devoted to his family, Dakota allows himself just one week of vacation a year, which he spends in some exotic location having all the fun he can stand. On his last vacation, a cruise, Dakota struck up a friendship with Phillip Reardon, and it fills an important role in Dakota’s life.

So when Phillip decides to take Dakota up on his invitation to visit the ranch, Dakota is happy to see him and meet his veterinarian friend, Wally Schumacher. Despite Wally’s inclination to help the wolves Dakota’s men shoot to protect the cattle, he and Dakota find they have a lot in common, including a fierce attraction. But they’ll have to decide if the Wyoming range is big enough for Dakota’s cattle, Wally’s wolves, and their love.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Contemporary, Cowboys, Father-son relationship, Wolves (the real ones)

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher

One look at the cover of this book was enough to make me want to know more about the story. And yes, a hot cowboy as the hero, taking care of his father, sealed the deal, I wanted to read this book. Yet, it took me a few weeks to actually pick it up and start reading it - I was waiting for the right mood to spend some time on the ranch. Once I did however I didn't want to leave again and when I finished the book I regretted that I had to say goodbye to Dakota and Wally. Despite their funny names, these men grew on me and I loved the way the author brought them together and made me believe their attraction and love.

One thing I really liked is that Mr Grey took the time to introduce his heroes, before letting them meet and get to know each other. First we learn a lot about Dakota and his relationship with his father, which is endearing. Only when we're already about 20% into the book Wally makes his appearance and he and Dakota meet shortly after. Dakota is a tall, muscular dark-haired cowboy and Wally is a much smaller, blond twink veterinarian. They're a dream couple even when Wally thinks he's no match for the handsome cowboy. But the attraction is mutual and instant. Yet they have to be careful to act on it because of the not so gay friendly attitude in 'cowboy-land'. And Dakota only comes out of the closet first during Wally's visit to the ranch. This coming out process is going naturally, maybe a bit too smoothly, considering the environment, with hardly any conflict except for one or two ranch hands and locals giving some trouble.

The no-conflict element characterizes this whole story actually. It's all minor and exterior friction which is solved quickly in this book and at times I find that very pleasant, especially after reading a highly angsty book. Dakota and Wally work on their relationship steadily and with the best intentions. Communication is not going smoothly all the time, but it does in general. Both are likable and great heroes and their chemistry is sizzling hot. The smexing is been foregone by tender moments in which they share some scorching kisses and just cuddle and sleep. The build-up is again done wonderfully.

Another aspect I enjoyed quite a bit about this book is the role of Dakota's father and other secondary characters. Especially the father is an important character and feels like a man of real flesh and blood. His medical condition, multiple sclerosis, is the reason for Dakota running the ranch instead of finishing his medical study, but he has no regrets about that at all. His relationship with his father is loving and caring, and when his father has good moments his fatherly advice is wise and helping Dakota figure some things out.

And then there's Wally's passion for animals and his need to protect and take care of all of them, including the wolves that are a threat to the ranch and therefore a regular target of some shooting cowboys. He and Dakota's opinions differ on this subject, but the way they deal with an injured wolf is subtle added evidence of their evolving feelings for each other. Wally's personality gets its color from his passion and his take on this subject, as much as it feeds Dakota's love for him.

As you can tell from the above I very much enjoyed reading A Shared Range. It's a sexy and compelling story about coming out of the closet. And although that last part was perhaps dealt with a bit too optimistically, given the environment these men live in, it's embedded nicely in a world of ranching which was presented vividly and appeared realistic apart from that element. It's not only easy to love both heroes but also to understand them thanks to the alternating point of view from both men. Their love story is well paced and engaging, has scorching hot and tender moments, and is entertaining until the end.

Andrew Grey’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook

Buy A Shared Range here


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nice or Naughty Weekend, part 1

To get into the December spirit I decided to read the collection of short stories and novellas from Dreamspinner's Advent Calendar Set 2010, titled Nice or Naughty, this month. Here are my thoughts on the first few I read.

All Snug
B.G. Thomas
Purchase link
4.5 stars

All Snug is a very cute, sweet story about two guys, Elliot and Shawn, who both want to buy the same antique bed as a Christmas present for their boyfriends. It's told in first person point of view from Elliot who is the more succesful guy of the two and can afford the bed easily. Shawn has worked overtime and saved his last penny to be able to buy the bed. To decide who can have the bed they agree to participate in a contest that includes a few challenges. While having fun trying to win the challenges they start to learn more about each other and Elliot falls hard and fast for Shawn's innocence and different look on life.
Both guys are lovable characters, the challenges are fresh and fun and the plot is original and well-paced. The outcome - concerning Elliot's and Shawn's boyfriends for whom they wanted to buy the bed - was a bit predictable but that didn't diminish the reading pleasure at all. This was a great start for me to the Nice or Naughty set.

As the Snow Lay All Around
S. Blaise
Purchase link
3.5 stars

This story is set in historical England and is about a rich and a poor boy, Gerard and Matthias, meeting for the first time when they're ten years old, on Boxing Day. Then they meet again on a few Boxing Days to follow over the next decade. And finally, that one special Boxing Day when they're grown up and share their first kiss followed by a hot orgasm in the snow. Nevertheless, the class difference keeps them apart. And then a few years later they meet again...
For such a short story this one has a huge time span in comparison, so there's not much room for character development or - for example - extensive sex scenes. Despite that, this was a very enjoyable, classic themed story, framed in a well-paced plot, sweetly told from Gerard's third person point of view. Matthias stays a bit of a mystery because of his missing POV, but that didn't bother me. He and Gerard make a cute couple whom you just wish all the luck in the world.

Batteries Not Included
JL Merrow
Purchase link
4 stars

I recently read a very enjoyable novella by J.L. Merrow, Pricks and Pragmatism, and I was very much looking forward to this short story. And I wasn't disappointed in the least. Batteries Not Included is a humorous and original story, with a supernatural twist. One morning Sam wakes up and discovers his favorite popstar in his bed - naked. Neither of them can remember how they ended up in bed together, or what happened there. And Cain doesn't seem to be too happy about it either. Slowly they manage to unravel the events and meanwhile they have to deal with Sam's over-the-top, witchy mother, Lilith, who is a hoot. The story is told from Sam's point of view, in first person, and I really loved his witty, snarky voice. Sam and Cain are so hot together - their chemistry is sizzling, even in the non-erotic scenes. Their initial banter accompanied by Sam's observations made me laugh out loud quite a few times.

Overall, I really enjoyed these first three Nice and Naughty stories. Only 28 ones to go! :)


Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Gay Friday & Seasonal Shorts

This is how it is then, another Happy Gay Friday. Just as it used to be, only not as happy...
...because my thoughts are still every minute of the day with my dear friend Leontine, who wrote a heartbreaking post about what happened to her.

I find myself having a bit of a hard time getting back in the flow of visiting blogs, chatting about books and other fun things, after this devastating blow to a friend and being offline for more than a week. So, I apologize in advance for not leaving that many comments on your blogs yet, nor being on Twitter that much. I'll get back to that, eventually. I don't know how long it'll take me but for the moment I'm more comfortable just reading a lot, including all the blogposts I missed.

One thing I did take notice of though, is the launch of a new website this week: Brief Encounters Reviews.
It's dedicated to short m/m romance stories and run by the two seasoned m/m romance readers and reviewers Jen and Tam. I'll be checking out their reviews frequently because the short story is definitely a genre I could use a little help at trying to pick the good ones from the huge supply out there.

Talking about shorts: I'm tasting a few short stories and novellas myself this month. All are part of the Naughty or Nice Advent Calendar Set of Dreamspinner's Press, a collection of 31 stories that are available since this Wednesday. My plan is to read them all this month and review a selection of them each week(end). I'm looking very much forward to reading these seasonal stories.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading seasonal books this time of the year?

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review of Running in Fear: Escaped by Trinity Blacio

Trinity Blacio
Running in Fear: Escaped
Ravenous Romance, 2010

Jaycee Manz has been on the run since her sixteenth birthday. After growing up fast and depending on no one, how is she supposed to handle three male werewolves who claim to be her mates? Can she learn to trust them or will she continue to run?
Dane Glassgo, alpha of his clan and a special ops commander, specializes in tracking. He's waited for the past two years to claim his mate. Nothing or no one will stop him from claiming Jaycee, not even her fear...
Pierre LeBlathe, brother to Remi and bonded mate to Dane Glassgo, knows his time is limited with Jaycee. But he is bound and determined to stop anyone from hurting her...
Mark Glassgo shares alpha duties with his elder brother, but when Dane finds his mate, Jaycee, he is shocked to learn she is also his mate. What he didn't count on was that he was also mate to Remi LeBlathe...
Alpha Remi LeBlathe, one of the most powerful weres in the country, has always protected what is his. When Jaycee comes into his life, mayhem erupts around them, but Remi is used to mayhem and uses it to his benefit. In seeking those who would harm his mate, Remi must learn how to listen to Jaycee's needs and desires...
Together, all four try to find peace, and the most powerful alphas in the U.S., Remi, Dane and Mark , declare war on anyone who stands in their way of claiming their runaway mate. But can the independent Jaycee be claimed?
In this sizzling werewolf menage story, love, lust and power take center stage in the struggle for ultimate survival.

Genre & Keywords:
M/F/M/M, Ménage, BDSM, Paranormal, Werewolves

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the author

When I started reading this book it had been on my to-be-reviewed-shelf for a while and I initially forgot to look up the backblurb and just jumped in, since it was time that I finally got to it.
In the first paragraph we meet Dane, alpha leader of his pack, who is worrying about his mate, or to be more precise, the woman he's going to claim as his mate, Jaycee. Shortly after, Jaycee is introduced, as a woman who's severely abused by her ex-husband. And then the hero and heroine meet each other. They instantly mate and Jaycee's 'running in fear' starts, because her ex-husband is after her. Dane wants to protect her, but she thinks she can handle it on her own and runs from him.

After this opening of the story I started to fear for a heroine with TSTL tendencies and I was wondering about the background of Dane's pack and their mating that already happened so early in the book. So, I looked up the backblurb and discovered I was in for a few more mates for Jaycee. I didn't find out more about the background, since it wasn’t mentioned in the backblurb, but I kept reading and was soon introduced to Marc and Pierre, Jaycee's other mates.
Meanwhile quite some sex scenes had taken place, with lots of graphic descriptions but lack of an emotional level. Jaycee also got dressed up to play a role as a submissive to deceive her ex, James, and his friends at some club. That was the plan. Except, this story thread never returned in the rest of the book. And to be honest, it rang false to me that Jaycee was trained as a submissive like she stated, because she acts anything but submissive.
At this point we're not even 20% into the book and already I have quite some reservations.

And it doesn't get better. More and more I feel like I'm reading a rather inconsistent story with cardboard characters that are playing out a not very believable script, like they are actors in a cheap pron movie. We're tumbling from one event into the next one and it all feels like a bit too much and too spur of the moment. Additionally, none of the protagonists are very likable characters. My fear regarding the heroine turned out to be true, her actions don't make much sense, often she's contradicting herself and I just couldn't like her.

But despite the awkward flow of the plot, the unlikely events and the flat characters I kept reading, hoping for a satisfying romantic story arc. To no purpose! There's no romantic development whatsoever, just a few rather rough sex scenes without any insight in the protags' feelings or thoughts. And to top it all off, the book ends with an unexpected 'To Be Continued' in the middle of a 'relationship problem'. Not a hint of a Happy For Now or Happy Ever After ending. Very frustrating! How could an editor/publisher let this happen?
And to be honest, I don’t think I’ll pick up the sequel because I actually won't believe in a HEA anymore - after the way the fourth (!) mate was introduced things seem pretty irreparable. At least for me.
Overall, I'm rather disappointed in this book and I have to think twice if I'll read the sequel any time soon, if at all.

Trinity Blacio’s website | weblog | on Goodreads

Buy Running in Fear here


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review: Silent Knights by Gale Stanley

Gale Stanley
Silent Knights
Silver Publishing, 2010

Paul Stanton thought he had it all, a great job, a beautiful condo and a stable relationship with his soul mate. When his lover dumps him for another man, Paul is forced to rethink his life. He visits his childhood home in rural Pennsylvania rather than spend the holidays alone in San Francisco. But only a few days with his family is enough to convince him that you can't go home again.

Paul leaves for the airport in the midst of a snowstorm. Stranded in the woodlands, a chance meeting between him and a hunter is his only option for survival. He knows the type. A backwoods bigot like the men he grew up with. But what choice does he have? A few days with the Mountain Man convinces Paul there's more to Andy Reynolds than meets the eye. But is it enough to bind two men who have nothing in common except their sex?

Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Contemporary, Opposites attract

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the author

Silent Knights starts promising. Paul Stanton is on his way to the airport after a visit to his family in rural Pennsylvania. We’re following his thoughts and learn about his, not so joyful, relationship with his parents and his recent breakup with his boyfriend Craig. The description of the snowstorm he’s in, is vivid and you know something is going to happen. And yes, a tree nearly crushes him and he has to leave his car.
Then we switch to Andy Reynolds. He’s hunting in the woods until the storm makes it impossible to see tracks in the snow and he decides to return to his cabin. Riding his ATV he suddenly sees a figure on the road – Paul – and avoiding a crash he steers his ATV to the side and before he knows it, he’s heading for a tree and lying face down in the snow. So far we haven’t learned much about Andy’s background, but when Paul comes to his ‘rescue’ we learn all about Andy’s gruff side. He feels an immediate attraction to Paul, but still manages to snap at him.

This nice set-up leads to the two men being condemned to each other's company until the snowstorm passes. And once they’re back at Andy’s cabin we know that Paul feels attracted to Andy as well. Only neither of the two men wants to feel the attraction. So, an odd play of push-and-pull starts, accompanied by phrases in italic silently exclaiming ‘What a dick’ the other man is, or just to ‘Fuck him’. They’re dancing around each other while having an awkward dialogue, of which I’m not sure that it was meant to be that way. It’s obvious that they are from different worlds: Paul being a city guy, Andy the mountain man.

And then this slips into their conversation:

“"I just asked where you buy all this great take-out you mentioned." [Andy]
"I live in San Francisco.” [Paul]
Andy's eyebrows shot skyward. Okay, now the proverbial cat was out of the bag. If Andy hadn't already pegged him as gay, he knew it now for sure. He waited for Andy to make some disparaging remark about faggots.”

And there I had one of the ‘huh?’ moments I started to have progressively. So, there are no straight guys in SF? None at all?
When Andy keeps his mouth shut, it causes Paul to fantasize about him in an erotic way. And then it’s bed time and I experienced another ‘huh?’ moment when we get treated to a detailed erotic dream from Paul. Not about him having sex with Andy. No, about him having sex with his ex-lover Craig! And with detailed, I mean detailed, going on for pages... And to be honest, I can hardly understand why Paul’s thoughts about missing Craig and feeling empty without him, had to follow this dream, on top of this all.

These and other examples didn’t make Paul a great hero for me. And it was hard for me to feel connected with this couple at all. In the beginning it’s kind of a riddle what they see in each other, except for the fact that their c*cks seemed to like what was in front of them. Additionally I thought that the absence of some sort of gay radar and the continuing wondering about the sexuality of the other man was dragged out a bit too long as well. I jumped for joy when they – finally – got to the smexy time together, which started with a hot kiss.

Eventually, after some hot smexing and when the snowstorm is over, Paul returns to San Francisco. And then the story gets another twist, which involves the ex-lover Craig. I liked this extra dimension to the book – which could’ve easily ended before Paul left – because it sort of surprised me and made Paul’s attraction to Andy a little bit more insightful. I’m glad the author didn’t settle for an easy, early ending but continued the story.
Another thing I enjoyed is that Andy knows what he wants and doesn’t unnecessarily complicate things. It’s good when at least one of the heroes is vigorous and ready to take certain steps without having his ex making things clear. It makes the HEA the more convincing in the end.

Overall, I enjoyed Silent Knights as a nice quick read, with which I spent a few hot hours on a cold night, while cuddled up in the corner of the couch with a warm blanket.

Gale Stanley’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook

Buy Silent Knights here

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