Monthly Archives: November 2011

Angel by Laura Lee


Title: Angel
Author: Laura Lee
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 200
Characters: Paul and Ian
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 5



Blurb:

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.

Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do.

Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul’s ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love.

Review:

Paul Tobit is a widowed, middle-aged minister of a mainstream denomination who is still coping with some personal grief issues after his wife dies from cancer. One day a beautiful young stranger shows up at the church, and Paul thinks that he may be an angel. Come to find out, the visitor is twenty-four year old Ian, a troubled alcoholic who is attending an AA meeting.

Eventually Paul and Ian connect, and Paul reaches out to help the young man. Ian goes into an alcohol rehab clinic, and afterward moves in with Paul at the parsonage. When Paul learns that Ian is gay, he has to confront his own prejudice and face the feelings that he is beginning to have for his house guest. A romance ensues, and the couple are then faced with the challenge of keeping their relationship secret lest an unforgiving and judgmental congregation find out the truth and expel them.

The beauty of this story is that it is unconventional in every way. It tackles several controversial themes including intergenerational relationships, homosexuality within religion, and the fluidity of sexual orientation. Initially Paul does not consider himself gay or even bisexual. I was impressed by the manner in which he discovered that love is love, and when this blessing occurs within one’s life, it truly is a gift from God.

There is no easy way to present a story about sexual orientation and religion. It seems no matter how the issue is broached, there will be someone who complains that the prose is “too preachy”. The novel did have a message, and if the reader allows her/himself to simply be swept away by the romance and by the intense emotion, the theme resonates. I was moved to tears throughout the story, and it reminded me of Brokeback Mountain. This is not to say that it is a light or easy read. It is heartbreaking actually, but very poignant.

Ian is my favorite character. He is so flawed and yet so beautiful. He’s cute and charming and self-effacing. I understood how Paul fell in love with him. I think I fell in love with Ian myself. I also understood the agony that Paul endured, trying to reconcile his own personal reality with the only profession he had ever known (and loved).

Of course, the villain in the story is homophobia, and it’s truly ugly. This aspect alone makes the book an emotional challenge.

This is an amazing debut novel—well written and edited, inspiring, uplifting, and thought-provoking. I don’t hesitate to recommend it highly. I would caution mm readers that the theme is quite deep and there are no graphic, intimate scenes. There also is not the typical HEA ending you’d expect to find in a classic romance novel.

Angel is a powerful story, one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed this year.

Reviewed By: Jeff

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By the Numbers by Chris Owen and Tory Temple


Title: By The Numbers
Author: Chris Owen and Tory Temple
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages: 188
Characters: Nathanial (Deuce) and Trey
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 3.5




Blurb:

The last thing Nathaniel, aka Deuce, expects to see when he gets home from work is his street jammed with fire engines and police cars. When he realizes that it’s his apartment building that’s on fire, Nathaniel can only think of one thing: his pregnant dog, trapped inside.

When firefighter Trey Donovan delivers Nathaniel’s unharmed dog to him, Nathaniel is exceedingly grateful. After all, it isn’t every day that he meets muscular, attractive rescue workers. Nathaniel manages to find out where Trey’s station is with the idea of saying thank you and offering him a puppy, but discovers that he and Trey have something else between them that needs exploring.

Trey, however, has responsibilities that could prove to make that exploration difficult. He has shift work to contend with. His seven year old daughter is a priority, plus he shares custody with his less than friendly ex-wife. Since Nathaniel is the new owner of one dog and six puppies, and doesn’t even have a place to live, he isn’t exactly in an ideal situation to explore a new relationship. Even if it is with a hot, handsome fireman.

Can Trey and Nathaniel find some common ground amid the yapping of puppies and Trey’s complicated family life?

Review:

By the Numbers, a cute story about two men named Deuce and Trey, brings together several winning elements which in theory should make for a winning romance novel. For some reason, though, the synergy just wasn’t there, at least not in my opinion.

I love jock/nerd themes, and who doesn’t love hunky firefighters? Add to this a cute, overly-smart kid and a batch of adorable puppies, and what more could you ask? I think that in a word, the answer is “conflict”. Whether we notice it or not, every story follows the same basic formula. There is a set-up, a conflict, and a resolution. In this particular book, the conflict was supposed to center around how Trey, the firefighter, made peace with his ex-wife and came out as a gay man. Nathanial, aka Deuce, struggled to find a comfortable role in Trey’s life which already was rather complex. Trey was already a fireman, an ex-husband, and a father; and Deuce was at first an admirer who became Trey’s roommate, and eventually his lover.

The conflict wasn’t gripping, and it was, for the most part, unnoticeable. I kept waiting for some big revelation to unfold or for a villain to emerge or a fight to ensue. But there were no surprises. What you read in the blurb is exactly what you find in the plot.

There was a bit of role-reversal that occurred within the story. Initially Trey was the hero when he rushed into a burning building and rescued Deuce’s dog. Deuce seemed to be a nerdy computer geek who lacked social skills. As the story unfolded, the characters arced, and it appeared that Deuce was actually the confident one while Trey struggled with some insecurities.

I did love the puppies in the story, but the author at times seemed more focused upon them than upon the mm romance. The fire station was interesting, but the author included more details about the day-to-day operation and about the equipment than I really cared to know. The ex-wife was presented in a very negative light, and I was a bit uncomfortable with the anti-woman tone or subtext that the author seemed to present.

The strength of the novel was the love story itself. The way the characters were brought together and how they subsequently discovered their attraction to each other, was really touching. The sex was well-written and very steamy.

Overall, I like the story and the characters. It’s a lighthearted read and a sweet romance. The intimate scenes are hot, and for this factor alone, the book will be appealing to many readers. Written by two amazingly talented authors, the book is sure to be embraced and loved by many fans. For me, it was not my favorite, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Reviewed By: Jeff

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Dark of the Moon by Laura Baumbach


Title: Dark of the Moon
Author: Laura Baumbach
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 63
Characters: Harley, Matt
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Paranormal
Kisses: 4




Blurb:

Recovering from a near fatal injury, vampire Harley Scott just wants some peace, quiet and a long night filled with darkness. The wilds of icy Canada sounds like the best place to make that happen– if he can make it past blizzards, werewolves, and — oh, yeah, a death squad of fellow vampires on his trail.

Review:

(This is a previously released book)

Dark of the Moon is a story about a vampire who is badly injured and in need of protection from a group of vampires who are out to destroy him because of his injuries. Harley was your everyday average vampire…um…prostitute. He’d jump from one john to the next seeking mainly blood from them as he fulfilled their sexual needs and one night something went terribly wrong when one of those johns decided to use Harley as the star in his very own snuff film.

After that incident he finds himself in a world of hate and pain, merely existing until he encounters a handful of humans who take him under their wing to get him to safety. Not to say they knew he was in trouble, I just think they were decent men helping someone out. Harley ends up in a small town, in a bar where he meets Matt, the sheriff and things heat up here very quickly.

We get to see how lively Harley is and how it takes a hell of a um…man to get him to see everything in a different light so to speak. He also learns the meaning of real love, how a pack protects its own, and how to trust once again.

This is a well told story, with a lot of Harley doing a lot of thinking in the pages. You get to know and understand him and his frustrations, and feel for him, cheer him on, and Matt as well. Matt is just…awesome. If you missed this story the first time out, don’t pass it up this go around.

Reviewed By: Michele

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Layover by Elizabeth Coldwell


Title: Layover
Author: Elizabeth Coldwell
Publisher: X-cite
Pages: 67
Characters: Cal, Justin
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 4




Blurb:

A gay erotic novella by best-selling author Elizabeth Coldwell. Flight attendant, Cal, knows he’s dropped lucky, spending a 26-hour layover at a luxury resort on the beautiful island of Aruba. And that’s before he meets Justin, the gorgeous and deliciously kinky resort manager. So when a tropical storm grounds the plane, and lets him spend more time in Justin’s company, he’s sure he’s truly found paradise. But will his new-found happiness be snatched away when the time comes to return to England?

Review:

If you’re looking for a cute erotic story, then you’ve come to the right review. Layover is just that. A cute short story about flight attendant Cal and what happens to him on a layover in Aruba, of all places.

The story begins with the crew in the air and Cal watching two young lovers having a time of things in their seats near the back of the plane. Fantasies fill Cal’s head making things a tad-bit uncomfortable for him or should I say how his uniform fits him in a certain area. Something he can’t take of until the plane is set down and he is alone in his room at a resort where the crew is spending their layover.

There’s a colorful cast of characters who help to bring this story to life and one of those being Justin, the manager of the resort who Cal takes a liking to very quickly. So much so that their first night they more or less find love. The second night they find themselves victims of a hurricane and the next we see a bit of D/s action going on with the two. The author went into great description of the resort, of the beach, even a few of the locals Cal met while with Justin.

Overall a cute story with saucy bits and pieces. Even a masseuse who delivers happy endings. The ending is a HFN, so if you’re looking for HEA, this isn’t it. Or just perhaps the author is hard at work on their next adventure?

Reviewed By: Michele

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Pirates of the Narrow Seas, Book 1: The Sallee Rovers by M. Kei


Title: Pirates of the Narrow Seas
Author: M. Kei
Publisher: Create Space
Pages: 280
Characters: Peter Thorton, Captain Tangle
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Historical
Kisses: 4






Blurb:

Lieutenant Peter Thorton is in love with fellow lieutenant Perry. Both men are given commissions to serve aboard HMS Ajax, taking an Islamic envoy to talks in France. Thorton makes an enemy of the Captain, who is largely incompetent but does not like people who show they know it. During a storm, the Ajax comes to the rescue of a sinking Spanish galley. The Spanish abandon their vessel, leaving their slaves, chained to the oars, to sink with the ship. Thorton and several of the other British sailors attempt to free the slaves and stop the galley from sinking. As they do so, the storm blows the two ships apart, leaving him surrounded by freed slaves who have no desire to voluntarily sail back to the Ajax to be reunited with their captors.

Command of the galley is taken by Isam bin Hamet al-Tangueli (Captain Tangle to his crew) a famous pirate of the Barbary coast, who had been serving as a galley slave following capture by the Spanish. The story then follows Thorton’s slow naturalization into the ways of the Sallee Rovers, and his growing understanding that he’s better off in a culture that allows him to love other men without censure. Rejected by Perry and wooed by Tangle, Thorton has to decide where his loyalty really lies.

Review:

I’m going to begin by saying this was a very difficult book for me to review, only because some of the things I liked most about it were the very things that made me feel entirely conflicted about how to rate it since this is a fictional account of a very real time in history. In all honesty, and with the utmost respect for the author’s abundant knowledge of the sea, the ships that sailed the briny blue, and the pirates and naval men who piloted them, I thought perhaps this novel might have had a broader appeal if it had been presented as a work of non-fiction instead, aimed at an audience of sailing aficionados who enjoy learning about, in great detail, the nautical terms, naval politics, and manner of dress during the 18th century Age of Sail.

Presented as an action light, description cumbersome work of fiction, Pirates of the Narrow Seas was, at times, difficult for me to persevere through. The protagonist, Peter Thorton, is a conflicted and sympathetic hero, torn between his duty to God and King and his yearning to be more that what he is, concealing his homosexuality, his love for his best friend, and denying himself the happiness he wants and deserves; though I’m compelled to say he was entirely overshadowed by the dynamic corsair, Captain Tangle, and even, to a certain extent, a minor character, Archie Maynard, a teenage boy whose valor and enthusiasm shone brightly and who stole every scene he was in.

When the swashbuckling action did occur, those sequences were luminous in detail, providing for much needed breaks when the flow of the narrative lagged under the weight of explanation of the very finest points of fact, down to the types of buttons on a coat. These were elements that did not advance the plot in any way, leading to a lengthy journey toward the climax and resolution of the story. In many ways, I felt this novel lacked cohesiveness, seeming more a gathering of data, which was then presented within story form.

So, why the four kisses? Because M. Kei worked diligently to present his case for a seafaring novel that did nothing less than prove he knows a great deal about the time period, as well as the ships that sailed during that time. For lovers of all things nautical in nature, this is exactly the right book to pick up.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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Walk Through Fire by Laura Baumbach


Title: Walk Through Fire
Author: Laura Baumbach
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 32
Characters: Caleb, Drew
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Paranormal
Kisses: 4




Blurb:

Caleb’s vampire lover has been cursed by none other than the Duke of Hell. For over one hundred years he’s tried to free Drew, and has failed to defeat the demon champions. With Drew starving and going insane, Caleb doesn’t have much time left. What would you do for love? Sacrifice yourself, your immortal future, even your lover’s life?

Review:

Walk Through Fire is one of those stories that just grabs you by the heart right at the start and refuses to let it go until the very end. Thankfully this is a short story. Caleb is a desperate vampire, who for the past 157 years has had to endure the same battle against the demon champions in hope that he will save his lover, Andrew from them, to set him free.

Through the whole story you are kept on the edge of your seat hoping this is the time he wins this war at his chance for happiness. I cheered him on with each turn of the page. I loved the description that Laura sets up for us within these pages and even am awed over how well she fleshed out these characters in such as short amount of time.

Reviewed By: Michele

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Forever Dusk by Lisa Worrall


Title: Forever Dusk
Author: Lisa Worrall
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Pages: 50
Characters: Jonah, Sebastian
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary/Paranormal/Erotica
Kisses: 4






Blurb:

Jonah reluctantly agrees to go to Forever Dusk, a theme club for wannabe vampires. Five minutes is long enough until he catches the violet gaze of the mysterious owner, Sebastian. Inexplicably drawn to the mysterious stranger, Jonah makes a decision that could change his life forever.

Self-confessed horror fan Jonah reluctantly agrees to accompany best friend Theo and his latest squeeze to a new club downtown. Dressing up like an Anne Rice reject was not part of the deal, but that’s exactly how he finds himself outside Forever Dusk–the latest theme club for wannabe vampires.

After watching a fake vampire sinking his fake fangs into fake skin and drinking fake blood, and warding off an attempted assault by a drunk moron sporting fake contacts, Jonah decides to beat a hasty retreat.

Until he gazes into the beautiful, violet-colored eyes of Sebastian O’Keefe, the club’s owner. Inexplicably drawn to this vision of tall, dark, and mysterious, Jonah makes a decision that could change his life forever.

Review:

The pretenders and posers come out at night in Forever Dusk, those wannabe vampires who play at being undead nightdwellers, wearing fake fangs, drinking fake blood, donning contact lenses and pale makeup, all for the sake of the illusion, an illusion that, to the untrained eye, seems incredibly real, and maybe even a little freaky.

Lisa Worrall has written a hot and sexy story with a twist and a message at the end, where Jonah and Sebastian discover that like does indeed attract like, and there really is someone for everyone in a life that has, up until that moment, been bereft of a sympathetic soul. Fighting an attraction that compels you to run with your base needs and physical instincts doesn’t make sense, especially when the one man Jonah wants is the one man who can make his body sing with a feral hunger.

A happy for now finish left me wondering if perhaps there might be a sequel in the works. The story, as it’s written, works quite well, either way—sweetly erotic, subtly romantic, and seriously fun.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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The Wanderer by A. Scott Boddie


Title: The Wanderer
Author: A. Scott Boddie
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Pages: 9
Characters: Ronald, Cherie, Bradford, Willow
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Paranormal/Contemporary
Kisses: 4






Blurb:

On Halloween night, three friends venture downtown to the New York City Halloween Parade. In the subway station Cherie, Ronald, and Bradford meet a young man named Willow, who has lost his boyfriend. In trying to help him, the friends find themselves in a surreal and supernatural night that ends with a horrific twist.

This story is being offered FREE of charge from the author & publisher.

Review:

I’ve ridden the NYC subway system, and therefore believe that anything can happen under the right circumstances.

The Wander is a story that will make you believe the same, a Halloween tale that begins uneventfully enough—a group of friends heading out to a Halloween Parade—but the tension builds quickly as a rat, a stranger, and an Asian woman all figure prominently into the macabre build up that leads to a beautifully mournful finish.

Don’t wait until next Halloween to sample this one. It’s short but a bit of a treat.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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Bloody Murder by A. Scott Boddie


Title: Bloody Murder
Author: A. Scott Boddie
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Pages: 16
Characters: Charles
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 4






Blurb:

Charles is an average gay man, full of hope for finding a boyfriend he can call his own, but he’s riddled with insecurities about his weight. When he meets a hottie named Terry at a local bar in the gay Mecca of New York City, he’s surprised and pleased at the sudden attention.

But Terry has an ulterior motive in hooking up with Charles, one which has nothing to do with sex.

Review:

Bloody Murder is a dark and deeply disturbing drama, told in the first person by Charles, a man who ignored his instincts one tragic night and paid a heavy price, a price that left him brutally damaged, near death, and would change the color of his life to an inky blackness tinted by revenge.

A. Scott Boddie has written this story in a voice that is, at times, difficult to hear because it screams with the pain of need and regret. But it is also important to listen to because it speaks of an agony that encompasses the voiceless and gives those people the right to be heard.

This is a moving story that delivers an emotional impact to the reader.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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Devil’s Eyes by G.R. Richards


Title: Devil’s Eyes
Author: G.R. Richards
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Pages: 21
Characters: Graham, Noah
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Paranormal/Erotica
Kisses: 3






Blurb:

Synesthesia isn’t always a useful gift for a recording engineer, as Graham reveals during a film interview for Noah’s documentary on the topic. Synesthetics are people who see music. Some see colors or shapes in the notes they hear. Graham’s a little out of the ordinary — he sees images. Often, entire scenes play out before his eyes.

Graham’s come up against a stumbling block because of his synesthesia. In the bizarre death metal tracks he’s working on, the devil’s eyes appear at every turn. He’s scared stiff, and if he’s afraid to listen to them, how will he ever get the tracks edited?

As Noah and Graham discover, confronting the devil’s eyes is a job for two.

Review:

Devil’s Eyes is a paranormal, erotic hallucination set to driving background music that sends recording engineer, Graham, into a frenzy of lustful fantasy that poses documentary filmmaker, Noah, against the beast himself.

This story gets full marks for originality and carnality, as well as descriptive writing, even if there isn’t much attention paid to plot or characterization. Taken as it’s intended—to titillate—this is worth the quick read.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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