Monday, February 28, 2011

Excitement, Excitement & Excitement

I’ve barely slept last night and I’m full of adrenaline, lol. Can you tell I’m excited? Why, you ask? Because last night I stayed up late to wait for registration for GayRomLit Retreat to open! It were some nerve-racking hours because we’d heard that only 300 peeps could sign in, including the authors who already registered. So, me and Leontine were biting our nails on Twitter, waiting together with some other girls for registration to open. And, yay, we all managed to sign in!
We’re going to New Orleans!!! I can’t wait to meet everyone!


And there’s more! Some of you may or may not remember that, a few months ago, I was thinking about a name change for the blog. Well, after letting it ripe for a while, I’ve decided to go for it! I even got my own domain registered, worked on a new header, created a new email addy and a new google account to match. I hope the transition will go smoothly (even though I know better than that). So, be prepared for some glitches and changes in the near future. :)
If everything will work out as I want it to, there’s no need to change URL, blog roll links, rss feeds, etcetera. But I’ll keep you posted about that.
Oh, yeah, you might want to know what the new blog name is… *oboy, this is scary, I hope you like it* It’s:

Rarely Dusty Books

I got inspired by the saying: ‘A dirty book is rarely dusty.’ And the domain/URL is


And last but not least, I also have some exciting news that’s not all about me, me, like the previous announcements. ;) Tomorrow, March 1st, it’s the Romance Reviews grand opening and they have over 200 prizes to celebrate this with. Here’s their announcement:

You’re invited!

From March 1 – 31, 2011

It’s The Romance Reviews’ Grand Opening!
Play the games. Explore new books.
Chat with authors. Vote for Best Books of 2010.
Rack up your points!
Visit everyday to increase your chances to win awesome prizes!
Over 200 prizes waiting for you!


Weekly Prizes
$10 Gift Cards – 32 winners!
(8 winners each week)
Over 150 Book Giveaways in total
(paperback, hardback, ebook)

Major Prizes
Grand Prize: $100 Gift Card
2nd Prize: $70 Gift Card
3rd Prize: $50 Gift Card

For Authors
(based on results of book votes)
Grand Prize: $200 TRR Advertising Package
2nd Prize: $100 TRR Advertising Package
3rd Prize: $50 TRR Advertising Package

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Gay Friday

Not much to tell today, just that I'm happy and I hope that you are too. I better save my words for all the reviews I plan to write this weekend anyway and let this week's picture speak for itself. :)

Happy Gay Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today I'm at Patti's

Today I'm over at Patti's place talking about my 'High 5, Low 5' of favorite and not so favorite themes and tropes in m/m romance. I hope you'll swing by to let me know which themes, tropes or character types make your ‘High 5, Low 5’ list... just follow this link.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest Review: Lost Treasure by Kate Sherwood

Kate Sherwood
Lost Treasure
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

When Kyle Champlain’s grandmother, Molly, passes away, he returns to Wetlake, Canada, to settle her estate. Kyle spent his summers in Wetlake as a child, and now he has the chance to renew his acquaintance with some old friends, including Ryan Summers, before going home to Chicago. But when Kyle tries to pressure Ryan into a business decision, their renewed friendship—and any possible attraction--is almost immediately on the rocks.

As Kyle begins to deliver the personalized bequests from Molly’s will, he meets an odd assortment of people from all walks of life and realizes he has a lot to learn about living and love. But he’ll have to fight his parents, suspicious beneficiaries, and Ryan’s fears if he plans to stay in Wetlake.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Past life, Family, Reunited lovers

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames

Guest review by Lis:

Lost Treasure was a gift to me from JesseWave’s Christmas bash and it couldn’t have been a better Christmas gift! Lost Treasure is both refreshingly normal and exquisitely extraordinary. It is a story about normal people and life, no stalker drama, murders or anything like what you find in many a romance story.

It is a character driven story, as opposed to action driven and is set around Kyle. A gym owner from Chicago. He’s come to Wetlake to settle his grandmother’s estate. He hasn’t been to Wetlake since he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. And what a lovely cookie jar that was. Ryan and Kyle immediately connect again, but things are tentative. Ryan and Kyle don’t immediately get together but slow dance for a little while. This to me was both fine, but also frustrating! However, you see the two grow throughout the story and that’s a good thing.

Lost Treasure is a story about people and how life can shape you and get in the way. The story is not only about Kyle and Ryan, but also Kyle connecting to the people in Wetlake again and regaining the good times he had when he spent his summers there.

The story has some good, well developed characters. Both Kyle and Ryan are likable and believable characters. They are characters like you and me. You could meet them while grocery shopping or walking your dog. Kyle is someone who doesn’t like to rock the boat, but makes a stand when he needs to. Ryan is the more careful and caring of the two, having returned to care for his ailing father.

Have I mentioned this story is well written? Well it is. Kate Sherwood knows how to use a pen, or in this case the keyboard. The story flows easily and she is very adept at writing dialogues.
All in all Lost Treasure is a book I can recommend on a dreary Sunday (or every other day of the week) to be read in a comfy chair with a blanky and a hot coco!

Kate Sherwood’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Facebook

Buy Lost Treasure here


Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Gay Friday

TGIF!! I’m doing a little happy dance for the crazy, hectic weeks coming to an end. :) I feel high now from the rushing endorphins, although I’m likely going to crash in a bit, ‘cause it’s already almost midnight in my part of the world. Plus, I just exercised for nearly an hour and rearranged my home-office completely by pushing the furniture around, having a mini-spring-cleaning and re-organizing all my files. That’s how I celebrated the end of my ‘vacation’ in the Evil Land of Deadlines! Hahah!

So, what did I miss? What happened in the Happy Land of Romblogs while I was gone? I can’t wait to go browsing this weekend and catch up again!

Have a Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Trust Me by Sydney Somers

Sydney Somers
Trust Me
Samhain Publishing, 2010

After three months on the run, Detective Maxine Walker figures no one will find her behind a counter in a small Canadian town. It might even be safe to grab a beer with the sexy stranger who’s just come through the shop door. Then the bullets start flying.

When he saves her—then takes her prisoner—she assumes an arms dealer who set her up for murder has put a price on her head.

Lucas McAllister has doubts as to whether Max killed his partner, but it’s his job to bring her in. Plus, she could be his only lead to a missing biological weapon. That means he’s not letting her out of his sight, not for a second. Which shouldn’t be tough given the possessiveness that rushes through him with every touch. When the resourceful detective uses their attraction to attempt distraction, his hands-off policy is blown all to hell.

As the real hit men close in, trust is in short supply. But if they can’t trust each other, their lives—and their hearts—may get caught in the crossfire.

Genre & Keywords:
M/F Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Violence, Danger

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames

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

Trust Me is an engaging romance with quite a bit of suspense and action mixed in. Even though I already read it a couple of weeks ago I can still vividly recall the plot and the characters, thanks to their high entertainment factor.
Maxine and Lucas are enjoyable protagonists and they make a sexy couple. Fortunately they don’t fall into lust at first sight when they first lay eyes on each other. In fact, their feelings are rather hostile and the first part of the story they spend a great deal of the time snapping and lying to each other. Which was funny and amusing until I started to wish for a wee bit of sweetness… There’s only so much of toughness and snark I can handle from a romance heroine, so I was glad when she finally started to be taken with Lucas.

Not that Maxine’s initial defensive reaction wasn’t understandable. She had every reason to dislike him, since he’s the one who found her hiding place and starts to drag her back to New York - thinking she killed his partner - meanwhile having a few violent criminals on their tail. Even so, her verbal responses started to get on my nerves a bit, despite the fact they made me laugh a couple of times too. Therefore I was pleased when her attitude changed.
Lucas’s feelings start to change as well, when he comes more and more to the realization that Maxine is innocent. And even though he seems a bit of over-qualified (with his history in Special Forces) to be making rookie mistakes like letting Maxine escape a couple of times, he is quite endearing in admitting his wrong as to her guilt. And their physical attraction grows with their emotional connection, which eventually leads to them exploring their undeniable chemistry:
“You can trust me, Max.”
Her cheek grazed his. “That doesn’t mean I should.”
“Still don’t believe I’m one of the good guys?”
“Either way you’re dangerous.”
He lowered his head and his lips skimmed her bare shoulder. She gave a little moan of approval.
“You don’t sound too worried.”
“I can handle it.”
He trapped her jaw in his hands. “At least one of us can.”
Her lips parted, and he nipped the bottom one then slowly pulled it between his. This time he knew that sharp intake of breath was definitely his, and when she fit against him completely, her hands sliding around his neck, like she needed something to hang onto—and Christ he knew the feeling—he had to tamp down the satisfied groan that vibrated through his chest.
So damn hungry for her, he opened his mouth over hers, taking complete possession. She arched against him, rubbing just hard enough that the slow, sweet friction left him aching to get inside her. Catching her hips, he rocked against her, and she released a deep a carnal sigh. He swept into her mouth, stroking deep with his tongue.

As this quote shows, we also get Lucas’s point of view, which I think is great. I love the male perspective in my romance books very much. The quote also shows Ms Somers pleasant and easy writing style that added up to the enjoyable reading experience for me.

But honestly, I was glad when the chase-and-run part of the plot, that was amusing at first but took up a significant part of the pages, came to a bit of a rest and started to lean more towards a physical exploration of the blooming feelings between the main characters, and also towards the resolve of the mystery story arc. I found that arc pretty suspenseful and well-developed, even though a few things felt unlikely (for example why Maxine stayed in hiding for three months while she should be catching the real killer). However the conclusion of it all was rather thrilling.

I understand that this is the first book in a series: The Lassiter Group series. And although I can’t find any information about other books, I suspect that the author has more of her well-written, entertaining mystery and suspense in store for us, which probably will involve other colleagues of Lucas in a romantic situation. I’m wondering which colleague will be starring in the second book… Trust Me was actually released before, in 2006, and this is a re-release, so, let’s hope Ms Somers won’t let us wait another couple of years for the next book.

Sydney Somers’s website/weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook

Buy Trust Me here


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just Popping In… and Out Again

When waking up, do you ever wish for it to be 10 or 11 pm again? Or that you could fast forward an entire week, like in fictional works? Fictional characters seldom seem to have to deal with boring every day crap and obligations, now do they? Mind you, this is not a request for authors to start writing about this stuff. No please, keep fast forwarding excessively. I just wish I could do so myself every once in a while. I would’ve fast forwarded the past week and a half, approximately, and skipped right to Friday.
Ah well, we normal people just have to deal with some normal stuff sometimes, I get that. ;) What I don’t understand is that I allow it to pile up so freely. Why can’t I spread the work related peaks, the social obligations, the assignments and the deadlines better? Maybe it’s because I have difficulty with saying no. But I’m learning to do so. This morning for example I got a request from one of our organization’s branches; if I could replace someone who got sick and do some lecture on ‘books or something’. It was not only on short notice but this talk should also take place on a Wednesday night, which is not a working night for me. So, I said no. Yay! Of course I made up an excuse, even recommended this professional, and didn’t simply say no, but whatever. :)

Reading books is what keeps me going in times like these. Every day, when I’d finally put my head on my pillow around midnight, I switched on my ereader and picked a novella or short story to keep me company for a couple of hours. Heaven.

A few reads that kept me up because they were great reads, are:

High Flow (St. Michael's, #7)

High Flow by Stephani Hecht

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Clare London

The Bouncer

The Bouncer by A.J. Llewellyn

Beyond Reckless

Beyond Reckless by Ava March


Pieces by Shawn Lane


precious_boy by K.Z. Snow

View all my reviews

I hope to write some reviews about these books some day when I have more time on my hand again. Even if it’s just a few short lines on Goodreads. Now I didn’t even give them rates yet. But I will eventually. They will all get 4 stars or more and Beyond Reckless will definitely be close to 5 stars. That was the highlight of my week for sure!

Now I’m sneaking out again. Tonight there’s this baby shower hubs and I have to go to and tomorrow after work I have this work related social event that I’ll have to attend for networking purposes. Can somebody fast forward me to Friday please? :)


Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: Idaho Battlegrounds by Sarah Black

Sarah Black
Idaho Battlegrounds
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

Sheriff Grady Sullivan returns to Canyon County, Idaho, after his second tour in Afghanistan to find his department in disorder and his authority undermined. He’s determined to restore discipline, but he soon finds himself fighting for his job. The bright spot in his life is kindred soul Edward Clayton. But Edward isn't just raising dairy cows, and Grady is soon pulled into Edward’s Underground Railroad for illegal kids.

As noble as Edward’s work is, it’s illegal, and Grady is suddenly faced with losing everything he’s worked for and everything that matters to him as he’s forced to choose between Edward and the work that has always defined him.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Men in Uniform, Farming
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher. It was my first book by this author, but it won’t be the last one.

Idaho Battlegrounds is a well-written, sweet romance. The main characters Grady and Edward are lovable heroes who are just right for each other. Their love story takes place against the background of rural, small-town life. Grady is the town's sheriff who recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan to find his department in disorder and his authority undermined. New in town is cheese farmer Edward, a former lawyer, who is proud and openly gay.
Grady and Edward start to develop feelings of affection for each other. They are reading books to one another and their mutual feelings cause them to share a bath and inevitably they end up in bed together. Not that we learn anything about their activities in bed... There're no explicit sex scenes in this book. Only hints that the guys are having sex. And we witness a few kisses, but those are more sweet than hot, like the rest of their blooming relationship.

What I quite enjoyed was the fact that the men were reading books to each other as well as the references to these books. A few quotes were given, and the titles, of which I recognized a few. When Edward seems to be breathless after Grady read the first part of Let The Great World Spin from Colum McCann to him on the phone and urged him to come over to read the rest of the book together, I could relate to this, because the opening of this novel is indeed breathtaking (not in a smexy way, in case you were wondering ;)).
Another aspect I rather enjoyed were the descriptions of Edward's cheese making skills and tasks, and the guys working together to make cheese. There's always such a beautiful, quiet calm to the things they do together amidst all the turbulence that is going on in the rest of their lives. That made this a pleasant reading experience. Furthermore, there’s not much of a relational conflict between the heroes - only a minor external one, caused by the fact that Edward is helping out illegal kids, something Grady knows and which could get him into trouble, being the sheriff. But they agree that it’s a good cause and worth pushing the boundaries of the law, which underlines the message that these are honest, good men.

Adding everything up, it wasn't hard for me to believe these heroes are perfect for each other - although others may say that their relationship development could've been more elaborate and done a little more convincingly. It's really just the start of a relationship, imo a very sweet and believable one, but with an ending that's not quite a HEA but more a HFN (Happy For Now). I wouldn't have mind to read a bit more about how their relationship proceeded after everything settled down in their lives, in the sheriff’s department and on the farm. But maybe the author is saving that for a sequel... who knows. This still was an enjoyable read.

Sarah Black’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter

Buy Idaho Battlegrounds here
Find a few free stories by Sarah Black here


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Review: Island of Icarus by Christine Danse

Christine Danse
Island of Icarus
Carina Press, 2010

Field Journal of Jonathan Orms, 1893

En route to polite exile in the Galapagos Islands (field work, to quote the dean of my university), I have found myself marooned on a deserted tropical paradise. Deserted, that is, except for my savior, a mysterious American called Marcus. He is an inventor—and the proof of his greatness is the marvelous new clockwork arm he has created to replace the unsightly one that was ruined in my shipboard mishap.

Marcus has a truly brilliant mind and the gentlest hands, which cause me to quiver in an unfamiliar but rather pleasant way. Surely it is only my craving for human companionship that draws me to this man, nothing more? He says a ship will pass this way in a few months, but I am welcome to stay as long as I like. The thought of leaving Marcus becomes more untenable with each passing day, though staying would be fatal to my career...

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Steampunk, Self-discovery

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

Guest review by Lis:

When I received Island of Icarus a little while ago the thing that attracted me most about this book was the Steampunk. Steampunk has become a new favorite interest of mine and while I don't walk around in Steampunk clothes, I love to read the stories with Steampunk elements.

Island of Icarus is about Jonathan and Marcus. Jonathan is the scientist who teaches at University and has a perfectly normal, if what boring, life. That is until he lost his arm in an accident. He's fitted with a clockwork prosthetic that is very Steampunk. Despite that, he isn't normal anymore and the University “pushes” him to do some fieldwork. En route there is a great big storm and like all great adventures he washes up on a deserted island. Only, the island is not as deserted as it first looks. It's inhabited by a brilliant doctor named Marcus who's there to do his own brand of research. If you know your Greek mythology it's not hard to guess what!

Marcus fits Jonathan with a new arm that is better than his old one and from there a friendship develops between the two. The friendship and the consequent romance that follows is slow to build, but real. Throughout the story both characters explore their feelings, though as the story is told from Jonathan's point of view you get a better insight into his feelings than Marcus’s.

The downside of a story written in first person is that you don't get a real insight into the thoughts and motivations of the other characters. In this case Marcus. We only know what Jonathan knows and in this story I found that to be a bad thing, because I found Marcus a much more interesting character than Jonathan. Marcus is a determined man, not willing to let himself be ruled by society and sets out to make his own fate.

The fun thing about this story is also that there are almost no secondary characters as most of the story is set on the Island. It's a strength that the author knows how to keep the reader engaged with such a limited setting and cast of characters.

This story really is more a journey of self discovery and coming to terms with your sexuality than a romance, but in a way it fits the story as well as the writing. Jonathan's thoughts and speech match the period it is set in. He is an intriguing character.

What I didn't quite get was the title. The myth of Icarus is about the escape from an island on which Icarus and his father Daedalus are imprisoned. Daedalus builds a set of wax wings.
While Icarus is the one who flies away (and attempts to fly too close to the sun and as a result his wings melt and he crashes and burns) Daedalus is the one who built the wings. He is the master craftsman, like Marcus, not Icarus. Therefore the title didn't quite fit in my eyes. However, there could be another meaning to the title that I missed.

Island of Icarus is a beautiful story and while it didn't manage to draw me in, it could be the story that you are looking for!

Christine Danse’s website | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Tumblr

Buy Island of Icarus here


Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday’s Hot Couple & Time Out

Every now and then I have a cluster of deadlines at work and as a freelancer, all piling up with private and online stuff, in a short period of time. Now is such a period. *sigh* So, I want to say sorry for not being around here much, nor at other online places, the past couple of days and the coming week. I hope to be back again in a week, but this week I’ll be busy tearing out my hair, fighting off the stress-induced neck- and headaches, muttering that I’m not gonna make it, procrastinating by stalking your blogs unnoticed and sagging into the couch with a sob at the end of the day. ;)
Thank goodness that Lis has written a guest review and I still had a few unposted ones, so all I have to do now is schedule them for this coming week. And hoping that you all be here when I return from the Evil Land of Deadlines… :)

Enjoy this week's couple and Happy Monday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: Sahara Blue by Jan Irving

Jan Irving
Sahara Blue
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

Seth Hollis lives his passions online under the pseudonym “Lotus” and attracts ex-Navy SEAL Sahara Blue, who avidly follows the erotic tales of passionate submission Seth posts. While they forge a powerful connection, it’s increasingly frustrating, because both men yearn for something real. Seth’s writings have also attracted an unwanted and dangerous admirer, and when the glass window of Seth’s shop is shattered one night, fate sends Sahara Blue to his rescue.

Unaware he has actually met Lotus, Sahara takes Seth under his wing, and that same mysterious and deep attraction flares to life. But Seth’s deranged stalker won’t let up, and Seth and Sahara will have to give up their secrets and learn to trust if they’re going to keep each other safe.

A spin-off of Mastering Toby.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Stalker, Virginity, ex-SEAL, Damaged heroes

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames

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

Thinking of the main characters, awkward was the first word that came to mind when I started reading this novel. During the first third or so of the book Seth and Sahara seemed to be unable to act after their feelings. Their attempts to make contact and get closer were so unusual and weird; it almost felt as if they weren't completely well in the head. But as the story progressed 'awkward' became 'adorable' and definitely turned into 'hot' and 'sweet' in the end. It turned out that both Seth and Sahara are emotionally damaged men and being together is the best thing that could happen to them.

So, eventually these heroes won me over. They are likable and layered characters, and definitely not the most common heroes. Their relationship has D/s tendencies although I wouldn't call it a BDSM relationship. The sex scenes are maybe a little hotter than plain vanilla, but that can be attributed to the kinky 'sex talk' they have going on and not so much to the sex itself. An important element in this story is Seth's virtual personality as Lotus, which he uses to make up and blog about his sexual fantasies. These fantasies sometimes are described explicitly and in the end they play an important part in his and Sahara's sex life. They also expose Seth's submissive nature quite clearly. I found it a bit difficult to rhyme Seth's sexual fantasies with his status as a virgin to be quite honest, but I liked how his two personalities - the shy, real life one and the sensual, virtual one - eventually melted together.

And Sahara is nothing like you would expect from a big, gorgeous, muscular ex-SEAL. Well, some things you might expect, but mostly he didn't answer to the cliché image of the military type. He has more layers than one can see at first. His initial clumsiness around Seth intrigued me. Slowly the author reveals a sensitive and caring person under all those muscles as the story progresses.
Here is how Seth sees him:
"Sahara. Capable, soft-spoken, authoritative—which both turned Seth on and pissed him off, depending on the situation—and beautiful."
And his name - Sahara Blue - which I found rather ridiculous at first, kinda grew to me and it definitely didn't make him any less masculine. (if anything, I had more problems with both names of the main characters starting with an S - I can't help mixing the characters up every time when that's the case).

Operating besides these two lovable heroes was a wonderful cast of friends. Among them were Toby and Jared from the first book in this series: Mastering Toby. Although these books are obviously related, I had no problems reading this second book as a standalone. Nevertheless I'd like to read the first book now that I've met Toby and Jared, who are friends of Sahara. They seem like an interesting couple and I'm curious about Sahara's role in that book.
And then there were other friends of Sahara and Seth playing a part as well. Like Gecko, who takes part in a threesome with the heroes near the end, and Karen, Seth's closest friend.

From the above, one might think that Sahara Blue is a character driven book but that's not exactly true. There's a suspense plot arc involving a stalker taking up a significant part of the story. Seth's alter ego, Lotus, brought this stalker out and some unpleasant things happen, and not only to Seth. Although the stalker trope can be a bit of a bore when not executed well, here it worked out okay. At least for me. Seth's role and growth became more convincing by it. Still, the stalker himself and his motives felt rather farfetched to me, but what else to expect from a psycho, right?

Overall, this was an engaging story with interesting characters and an entertaining plot, except for a few weird and not very believable occurrences. Sahara Blue will appeal to readers who are looking for a contemporary read that is somewhat uncommon and has some D/s tendencies without it being about a pain filled, leather and chains kind of relationship. It's different from other m/m romances I've read, in a good way.

Jan Irving’s website | weblog | Yahoogroup | on Goodreads

Buy Sahara Blue here


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Breathe by Sloan Parker

Sloan Parker
LooseId, 2010

Lincoln McCaw lost everything -- his home, his job, his partner -- after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he's drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has.

Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But how can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything -- a friendship and a love that could save him? He may not have time to make the choice before someone else destroys it all.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Guilt, Forgiveness, Learning to live with the past

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

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the author and I loved her first novel More.

When Sloan Parker's work hadn't already been on my Must-Read-List then the premise of Breathe - widower and ‘murderer’ of his wife meet and fall in love - would've piqued my interest and made me want to read this book for sure. Although I must admit that I also stood a little bit in fear of the execution: can an author succeed in pulling this off without it turning into claptrap? After all, it’s such a heavy and difficult topic, and it's probably much easier to take this over the top than to write a balanced novel about it. However, to my relief and utter reading pleasure, Ms Parker did succeed gloriously in making this a balanced story and in avoiding any suspicion that she was straining after effect. Sure, it had its emotional moments (and I love those in my romances) but these never became of the cheap tear jerking kind. And instead of zooming in on the pain, hate and revengeful feelings, this story was more about forgiving, dealing with guilt and getting on with your life after something painful, dramatic and life altering has happened.

Without wanting to give too much away of the plot, this story is about two guys meeting and falling in lust, having sex and subsequently finding out that one of them caused the deathly accident of the wife of the other man about a year ago. Notwithstanding this shared tragic incident, Lincoln and Jay feel good again for the first time since the accident when they're together. Their encounter, Jay's forgiving nature and their joint search for the source of the threats addressed to Lincoln, lead to a fragile friendship at first and a continuing of their sexual meetings. Gradually a relationship starts to build, one which is utterly believable, despite their shared history. It is made understandable why these men are good for each other, why they can - for the first time since the accident - be themselves again (instead of just 'the widower' or 'the murderer'), how contradicting this may sound. Yet, they struggle with their attraction and their feelings.

As a reader you can't help but sympathize with both heroes, thanks to the author's skillful way of depicting them and their conflict. Both are great, loveable characters, who have their flaws but are basically good-hearted and honest men. And these well-developed main protags are surrounded by quite some other characters. Together they form an interesting cast with each their unique characteristics and roles to play. The secondary characters not only give the two heroes more depth, make their struggle and conflict more tangible, they also are important to make the suspense arc work.
This suspense arc, mainly consisting of the search for the sender of the serious threats Lincoln receives, is an added bonus to the plot. It makes the story all the more balanced by helping the relationship move forward. But as a plot thread in itself it also works very well. It keeps you guessing - or maybe it was just me because I kept guessing wrong. ;) Anyhow, I thought the plot was very cleverly developed and perfectly paced.
This makes Breathe as much a plot driven novel as a character driven one, and that's just how I like them best!

I was already impressed with Ms Parker's debut More (and her two free stories) but this second novel truly confirmed her writing talent to me. Her skillful plotting, her handling a difficult topic so well, her ability to create real, three-dimensional characters, her talent to write meaningful, yet super hot sex scenes and her skill to make my heart ache and let me sigh in relief in the end, all convinced me of this. It’s probably needless to say that I'm already jonesing for her next book.

Sloan Parker’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter | on Facebook

Buy Breathe here
Find her free story ‘More Than Just A Good Book’ here
Find her free story ‘A Lesson in Truth’ here

Read Sloan's guest post 'One Author's POV on POV' here
Read her guest post about creating the characters for Breathe here
Read my 'High 5, Low 5' review of More here

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