Pammyla Reviews: Tinsel and Yule by Rob Rosen


Title: Tinsel and Yule
Series: Stocking Stuffers
Author: Rob Rosen
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Words: 5057
Characters: Tinsel and Yule
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Gay / Fantasy / Magic / Elves/ Mythological Creatures / Romance / Holiday
Kisses: 4

Blurb:

What happens when a naughty little elf named Yule, pairs up with a lonely-but-nice elf named Tinsel? Why, sexcapades at the North Pole, of course!

Throw in a reindeer gone missing just before Christmas, plus Santa’s frantic workshop trying to get ready for the holiday at the last minute, and see how the spirit of the season can change even the most bitter elf. Kissing under the mistletoe never had such a sexy twist before.

Review:

Tinsel is a very good elf, diligently working on finishing the toys Santa needs. But he’s also a very bored elf and despite sitting under the mistletoe for years nobody has ever kissed him.

Enter bad boy elf Yule, a nephew of Mrs. Claus no less. Yule is temptation personified: he smokes, cusses and Tinsel is besotted. He offers a little verbal resistance, but after the first illicit taste of Yule’s body, Tinsel is all about pleasure.

Then Comet goes missing, and everyone helps to help find him.

Tinsel and Yule is a hot and sexy short story with a sprinkling of humor. If you like hot and humorous Christmas stories with sexy elves then this is likely to be for you.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Pammyla

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Cuddling: a Multi-Authored Anthology

Title: Cuddling Anthology
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 312
Characters: Multi-Characters
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

What happens after “happily ever after”? No matter how long they’ve been together, the couples in this anthology find that keeping a relationship alive takes work. Whether it’s job conflicts or family issues, the seven-year-itch or just plain stuck-in-a-rut routine, these men face the challenges of keeping the spark alive with humor, creativity, and romance.

Stories included are:

Cupcakes for Two by K. Lynn
At First Sound by G.S. Wiley
Dream Lover by Nico Jaye
Happy Holidays by Anna Butler
The Responsible One by Eva Clancy
Home on the Range by Anna Martin
The Cat’s Out of the Bag by Rowan McAllister
Like an Old Sweater by Elizabella Gold
Change of Heart by Rhidian Brenig Jones
The Thing I Love Best About Mitch by Dawn Douglas
Looking Back by Rob Rosen
Quarter Moon Over a Ten Cent Town by Stephen Osborne
Reboot by S. H. Allan
The Making of a Family by Caitlin Ricci
Remember When by River Clair
How to Date Your Husband by AC Valentine

Review:

Some of the stories feel a bit similar, but the positive feel, sweet romances, and hearty humor go a long way in making this a comfy anthology to snuggle up with.

Cupcakes for Two by K. Lynn

Jacob and Matt have been together forever, first as best friends growing up and now as boyfriends. As the end of college draws near, their lives are once again changing, but they know they will face the future together. Their anniversary seems like a perfect time for Matt to remind his boyfriend that all they have, all they are, started with “Cupcakes for Two.”

This was a wonderful, sweet start to the anthology. From Jacob’s point of view we get insight into a loving romance, a relationship that has endured since childhood. This story is given through poignant yet mundane dialogue I loved reading. Both men are realistic, well-drawn out characters that it was an absolute pleasure to read about them. And when the first story in an anthology brings tears to your eyes, you know you’ve got a great book in your hands.

At First Sound by G.S. Wiley

In 1932, Bobby Carling is an up-and-coming young Hollywood actor. His fans love to read stories about his wild partying, but they don’t know Bobby’s secret: he’s in a loving relationship with an older man. Soren Sjovold was once famous as silent-movie star Silvestro Sardini, but with the advent of “talking pictures”, his heavy accent doomed his career. As they approach their two year anniversary, Bobby still wonders how Soren can accept the injustices of his career and of their relationship, but Soren has a surprise to remind his lover what’s really important.

This was a cute story about Bobby, a one-cowboy-role actor, who is very successful. In secret he has lived for years with Soren, a retired actor who never fit any role when the talkies came. Their anniversary celebration was held in a theater setting, and the Swedish comments were amusing. Yet the story was so short it felt a bit lacking, without a point, but nonetheless a cute little tale.

Dream Lover by Nico Jaye

Although Brady’s job as a corporate attorney is demanding, Chris has learned over the years to cope with the strains of his lover’s schedule. Even when Brady misses his own birthday surprise, Chris is more resigned than angry—it’s not the first time he’s come in second to Brady’s job. However, Brady comes home with a surprise of his own that just may introduce something into their relationship Chris never dreamed was in the cards.

Work does get in the way of most relationships once the newness and first crush has worn off. Chris wishes his big-time lawyer-lover Brady were around more, especially when he even misses his own birthday due to business. But… Brady has a few surprises for Chris, and that made this story rise from the sad mood to happy and bubbly. And the hot sex was good too!

Happy Holidays by Anna Butler

John Hogarth and Kit Lewis have been domestic partners as long as they’ve been working partners, running a small but growing design agency in New York. After fifteen years together, Kit wonders if they’re getting stale and takes a typically creative approach to inject a little romance and excitement back into their love life.

I swear, if I hear “Do you know what day this is?” one more time… Kit and John have been together for fifteen years, and then Kit comes up with something to keep things lively in the bedroom. Creative. While Kit is bursting with good ideas, John is at first confused, then happy to be lead around by his dick to wherever Kit wishes. This story had lots of humor and a wonderful established relationship, excellent writing and a good pace.

The Responsible One by Eva Clancy

After five happy years together, things between Tom and Owen have grown strained thanks to Tom’s job. When Tom leaves Owen at home to spend yet another Saturday working, Owen stumbles on a stash of porn Tom’s hidden away. Does Tom have secret desires he’s never admitted to Owen? And if so, what does it say about their relationship that he’s never spoken up about them?

This one reads a lot like a larger novel. We get both points of view, Tom and Owen, who learn something new about each other after five years of being together. This is an emotional, romantic and sexy tale, with some realistic dialogue, both rows and making up, and hot sex.

Home on the Range by Anna Martin

Colton Maverick has been away from his ranch for over four months, looking for an investor to save his floundering business and leaving his artist husband, Alistair Graystone, in charge. Gray hasn’t let Colt know how badly he’s struggled in his absence or that he’s hired a ranch manager to help out. When Colt returns home without warning, Gray doesn’t have time to tell him before Jared shows up, and Colt angrily accuses Gray of sleeping with the younger man. Will saving the ranch lead to the end of their marriage?

Husbands of many years, Gray and Colt have to face the facts their relationship and their lives aren’t going as well as they’d thought. This reads like a realistic depiction of a long-time marriage where the couple thinks they know things so well they don’t need to talk about what’s troubling them. Finally, as always, the bough breaks, and it’s time to face the music. A good cowboy story.

The Cat’s Out of the Bag by Rowan McAllister

When Michael learns that his boyfriend of six years lied about being on a work trip, he assumes his lover is cheating on him and stages a breakup scene that would make any diva proud. Unfortunately for Michael, everything doesn’t quite go as planned, and he learns a secret about Joel that he never expected… a furry little secret he’s not sure how to deal with.

Michael is quite the drama queen, acting out like a teen on a temper tantrum, but it’s so over the top it’s pretty funny. And Joel’s secret isn’t as dastardly or devastating as all that. To each his own. Thankfully Michael’s mom is a voice of reason. Not all secrets deal with cheating, and when Michael manages to get his head out of his ass, he handles things pretty well. A good furry story.

Like an Old Sweater by Elizabella Gold

Jeff is about to turn thirty, and he’s not happy. His job as a librarian feels stifling, while Ethan, his boyfriend of seven years, leads a seemingly glamorous life as a popular author and blogger. Ethan keeps coming home late from book signings and conferences, which worries and frustrates Jeff. When a cute college student begins flirting with Jeff, can he resist the attraction of another man’s attentions?

An established couple, settled from comfort to boredom? The simplest things start to annoy, every comment merits an argument, every perceived slight becomes a matter of life and death, or proof of cheating. Jeff has an admirer at the library and Ethan is always away on business as a successful writer. But there’s nothing a good roll in the sheets won’t cure, especially for two men who get worked up over nothing and who still love each other. A nice little story, even though I was a bit confused at times about whose point of view I was getting.

Change of Heart by Rhidian Brenig Jones

It’s the last thing Charlie Langridge wants to accept but he has to face it: after five happy years together, his beloved Finn has fallen for another man. Another man who’s younger, better looking, and far, far sexier than humdrum, run-of-the-mill Charlie. Better, perhaps, to surrender with grace and let Finn go. But deep in the heart of the mildest of men, there is a core of steel—if only Charlie can find the strength to fight for the man he loves.

Charlie is sure his boyfriend Finn is cheating on him. Where’s the line drawn? Actual sex or merely wanting, being flattered and tempted? There is a difference, though, between thinking about something and acting on one’s impulses. The two men need to talk things through, about what all this means for their relationship, what the future holds. Being ordinary doesn’t mean there can’t be surprises and excitement, as this good little story shows when Charlie and Finn take a step in a new sexual direction, one they were always headed for in the end.

The Thing I Love Best About Mitch by Dawn Douglas

Tyler Freeman is two days away from receiving his PhD when Mitchell Masters, his live-in lover of two years, asks what he’d like for a graduation present. There’s something Tyler wants more than anything, but it isn’t a gift money can buy. And it isn’t going to be an easy request for Mitch to grant.

When your first meeting with a prospective partner’s family goes all wrong, when the whole gay thing isn’t even addressed, it’s natural to feel apprehensive about trying again. But Tyler knows the best thing about Mitch, and they have a rapport to make things happen. A cute little story.

Looking Back by Rob Rosen

For their ten-year anniversary, Glenn buys Mack a session at Memory Merge, where computers allow couples to view their collective pasts in the hope of rekindling their cooling love affairs. As Glenn and Mack witness their first times together, they discover that seeing their history through each other’s eyes can shed new light on old, nearly-forgotten memories.

This was a fun little walk down memory lane, literally, with the aid of technology. Glenn and Mark feel like they’ve lost the spark, so they look back to find what was missing. New details about the past come to life before their very eyes. It is important to remember that as time passes it can feel like love has waned, when it fact it has grown deeper. I liked this inventive little story, very upbeat and romantic.

Quarter Moon Over a Ten-Cent Town by Stephen Osborne

Dylan Reed, head librarian of sleepy Flemyng, Illinois (population 1100) and his lover, ex-marine John Mackelby, have been together long enough that the townsfolk almost accept them as “regular people.” But behind the peaceful façade, there’s trouble brewing. John is spending more and more time at work, often coming home after Dylan’s gone to bed. And Dylan’s suddenly started meeting mysteriously with John’s best friend, Cody. Can the suspicions both of them harbor possibly be true, or can they find their way back to the days when they each thought the other hung the moon?

Sometimes witnessing something can make you believe there’s something going on, when there isn’t. Misassumptions and lack of communication lead to a few bruises and bruised egos here, but the instinct to protect the one you love is always there. This was a wonderful tale, written with humor and spice. I liked this one a lot. The story itself is not that unique, but the way it was told made me smile throughout. The ending had me laughing out loud.

Reboot by S. H. Allan

Josh works in a high tech job that takes up most of his time and attention. Flynn, his boyfriend of five years, is a rock singer, often on the road for weeks at a time. When the stresses of their jobs interfere with their life together, Flynn vows to “fix it,” but Josh is afraid Flynn’s idea of fixing it may be to end their relationship. Will Josh be able to show Flynn how much he means to him before it’s too late?

Being so engrossed in work that you don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you can go horribly wrong, especially when loved ones are concerned. One wrong comment, and the shit really hits the fan. This tiny tale read like a longer piece, which I liked. In fact, I liked the whole story. When Flynn does his thing on stage I was practically jumping up and down on my seat, rooting for him. A great, realistic and human tale of misspoken words and beautiful singing and loving through the thick and thin. And what an awesome name for a band!

The Making of a Family by Caitlin Ricci

Exhausted after a grueling business trip, Arden can barely wait to return home to his boyfriend Serio’s tender loving care. The last thing he expects is to find Serio with his own bags packed and ready to leave. Arden knows things haven’t been great between them lately, and Serio’s hurt that Arden doesn’t even know what’s wrong. Arden’s convinced, though, that what the two of them share is too strong to let go, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make things right.

Losing a child is the worst possible thing that could happen. And it happens to a lot of people at once, but the parents especially. Serio can’t get past it while Arden is trying to. Arden uses work to hide from the loss, but Serio can’t do that anymore. A confrontation is inevitable, or they go their separate ways. This one is a total tearjerker, so have napkins at the ready. The emotional toll of losing something so precious is beyond imagining, but the author delivers in spades. I felt the loss so deeply that I was gushing like a waterfall. A beautiful story.

Remember When by River Clair

Ben and Aaron have been together five years, but the demands of Aaron’s grad school studies keep them from celebrating the milestone events that mean so much to Ben. Determined to arrange an anniversary to remember, he plans for them to revisit the places they’ve shared special moments—their first meeting, their first kiss, the first time they told each other “I love you.” By the end of the day, though, Ben wonders if he and Aaron are even on the same page if his boyfriend can’t remember the important moments in their past.

What are relationship milestones? This little story shows us that what is significant to one, can be less that for another. Doesn’t mean there isn’t caring and that the spark of love has died. Ben and Aaron are a realistic couple who sometimes argue over nothing, like people do, but who love each other and long for the days when things were fresh, exciting and new. A great story of real life and true love.

How to Date Your Husband by AC Valentine

Ryan and Mike are stuck in a rut but still in love after more than ten years together. When Mike finds an article offering love-life tips in an old magazine, he suggests trying them as a way to add some spice back to their lives. Ryan thinks Mike is crazy, but he’s willing to do anything to make Mike happy, even if it means dating his own husband.

Spicing up one’s relationship by going back to dating. Be it experimental theater, or transparent underwear, or discussing sexual fantasies, trying new things goes a long way in showing the two men what they already knew but tended to overlook at times: That the two husbands who never really dated love each other and belong together. A wonderful upbeat and funny ending to the anthology.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Gay and Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies: A Multi Authored Anthology by Storm Moon Press


Title: Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages: 118
Characters: Anthology-Many Characters
POV: 3rd and 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 4.5




Blurb:

Ah, the allure of the office romance. The sly smiles across the room as you wonder if anyone else knows. The danger of being caught by the boss. The thrill of those stolen moments in the copy room or supply closet. It’s this feeling that we’ve condensed, distilled, and captured in the short shorts of Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies. We’ve compiled thirteen brief tales of men and women getting it on with a co-worker or a boss in a steamy office romance.

Some of them are established and have been sneaking around the office for some time, like Lori Hunt and her P.A. Ms. Lovell in She’s the Boss or Tom and Neal in Personal Assistance. Others, like The New Guy’s Greg and Eli or the awkwardly-named Rebecca A. and Rebecca B. from Tele-Romance are just beginning to experience the allure that can come from keeping the secret. Nor are such trysts confined to the office itself, spilling out into stairwells, copy rooms, gyms, and even computer server rooms. Whatever the case, though, they’re sure to arouse your imagination, and maybe even leave you looking at your own co-workers a little bit… differently.

Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies includes:
Skype Wars by Rob Rosen
Hands On by K. Piet
One Week by L. Alonso Corona
Working Lunch by Ann Anderson
Personal Assistance by K. Lynn
She’s the Boss by Angel Propps
The New Guy by John Amory
Stair Walking by Harper Bliss
1-888-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart
Fair Play by Anna Hedley
His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose
Tele-Romance by Erik Moore
Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Review:

Skype Wars by Rob Rosen

New technology naturally breeds new means for having sex. Skype, for instance. Paul needs his computer to work, but IT is doing maintenance. So Paul contacts his go-to-guy, Craig, who he secretly has a crush on due to many emails with smiley icons, and just Craig’s friendly manner. One small Skype session to help out leads the two men talking, and then having sex via Skype.

Hot internet sex with cameras is an excellent way to start this anthology. Paul and Craig are so cute together, and though not on the same floor of the building, the sex is hot. This is told in the first person.

Hands On by K. Piet

Sarah and Gwen are massage therapists who have no clients due to wintery conditions. Sarah has a huge crush on Gwen, and their solitary snow-bound situation allows them to get closer through an impromptu massage that goes spectacularly right.

This was a hot little lesbian tale. From Sarah’s point of view, we are left wondering is Gwen lesbian or not. A massage doesn’t always have to lead to sex, now does it? Fortunately for smitten Sarah, it does. The writing is close to the skin, palpable, sensual. Sarah’s sweet shyness vs. Gwen’s strong straightforward character made this a likable read.

One Week by L. Alonso Corona

Tom and Michael are colleagues on the same floor as salesman. Michael is sort of Tom’s boss but not quite. And they’ve had a heated moment in the backseat of a car, and though Tom kind of resents Michael for being so perfect, they’re trying to figure each other and their attraction out.

I admit this wasn’t for me. The story is told in the present tense which threw me a bit. Never been a fan. But once I got used to it, there were timeline confusions: I couldn’t distinguish what happened in the past and what in the here and now. Still, this was the most realistic story of all of these. We are very much in the dark about what goes on inside the mind of another—unless we allow ourselves to get close, even with the risk of losing our hearts. And that was what made this story stand out in the end.

Working Lunch by Ann Anderson

Janice is on a lunch break when she is surprised by her lover, Amber. Even knowing people can walk by or start coming back to the office any minute, Amber goes down on Janice—under her table.

Sneaky and sexy. This was just a window into the relationship of these two women, but the danger of getting caught while giving oral can certainly spice up sex. Hot, and recommended.

Personal Assistance by K. Lynn

Tom is the personal assistant to the most disagreeable boss in the office, Mr. Thompson. However, when no one is looking, there is tenderness in said boss, and Tom knows how to work (with) his boss.

Secret blowjobs when anyone could walk in? Not bad, especially for a couple who work diligently to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret. Tom has remarkable patience, and Neal shows his true colors while being pleasured. Definitely worth the read.

She’s the Boss by Angel Propps

Lori Hunt is the bitch queen of hell-also-known-as-office, and Ms. Lovell is her PA. However, behind the closed door of the boss-woman’s office, all bets are off. The boss becomes the slave.

A short glimpse into the intimacy between two women, BDSM elements are abound as domination shifts from employer to employee. There was only one bit that I didn’t like, which was the boss lady calling her PA daddy. BDSM vocabulary, yes, but sounded so off. Other than that one word, this was sexy all the way. There’s a masculine prop to this heated encounter, but under the circumstances it works. This is in the first person.

The New Guy by John Amory

Eli Grey is rich, but his family situation puts him in need of a job at the first of every month. A real job so he can learn to be self-sufficient. As a result, he’s the perpetual new guy. Until he becomes the assistant’s assistant to the exec of Mech Tech, Greg Fallon. A chance meeting in the restroom leads to an unanticipated but very welcomed sexual encounter.

This story has the best line in the anthology: “Aaand I just saw my boss’s penis, and it’s not even lunchtime yet. Great.” The unexpected sex here draws the reader in, just like this particular job with benefits draws Eli in. Recommended read! This is written in the first person and present tense.

Stair Walking by Harper Bliss

The heroine here, speaking in first person, is drawn to Delphine, a masculine, unapproachable woman at their company who always seems to know everything, but is the total opposite of a people person. One day after work in the stairwell, the heroine is surprised by Delphine who takes total command of their sex.

We are not given a name for the heroine, since she speaks to us directly. Delphine is not a pleasant individual and she uses crass language and has a distinct lack of manners. But when she’s in charge in a sexual situation, submission becomes sweet for our heroine. I personally wasn’t taken with Delphine as I’m not fond of mean people, especially in romances. But… where the story leaves off we’re given a glimpse of the woman’s other side.

1-888-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart

Being a temp sucks. Being a temp who’s about to get fired sucks even worse. But having an office fling in the copy room with the post boy, Tommy, as a last hurrah? Not bad at all.

This was a fun little romp, perfected by the liberal use of a copy machine during fiery sex. Yay! When working in an office, getting a pic of your butt or your orgasm face is an absolute must. And we get a cute HFN ending. Quite liked this one. This is in the first person.

Fair Play by Anna Hedley

Ethan is an assistant to another jerk of a boss, Mr. Vincent Berk. Then one day Ethan has enough, and tosses a cup of hot coffee on his boss—the same cup Mr. Berk said was too cold. Guess it wasn’t, huh. What happens next is a spanking—but just who’s doing the punishing?

Who hasn’t had a bad boss in their work history? You know, the one who complains about everything, even things that aren’t real. But disciplining has its merits, here especially. Turnabout is fair play. This was exciting and rough, very good.

His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose

Harris is the assistant to Dean Ingold, a total dick of a boss. Yes, there’s obviously a theme here. When Harris tries to leave to quit his job, Ingold tells him he can’t due to his family situation, and pretty much forces Harris into a sexual encounter. I won’t ruin what happens after the sex, but there are surprises in store here.

This one was my least favorite story in this anthology. From the first page, there’s a lot of cursing, all the way through, quite unnecessary. Then there’s, what at first glance seems like, the rape scene mixed with cheating. Sure, that’s not the right conclusion, but I was so turned off by this that by the time I was proven wrong with my assumption, it was too late to start thinking about passion, let alone love. I was left cold and disappointed.

Tele-Romance by Erik Moore

Rebecca A needs the help of Rebecca B to get his work stuff done. RA has a crush on RB, and one evening of working late an innocent little remark on the messenger chat reveals the possibility that maybe it’s more mutual than RA thought.

This was fun and sexy, even though the two ladies are only having sex via messenger. You get a sense of both women, and they turn out to be different than either of them thought. Their talk, brief and punctual due to their method of communication, sets you at the edge of your seat. Just don’t drop the keyboard like RA. I liked this a lot.

Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Jeremy Saitou is a cocky, insolent brat who’s making Shawn Cole’s, the manager, job that much harder. Then Jeremy breaks the rules by calling a client, well, a poopoo head, and as his third strike Shawn is supposed to fire him. Shawn is totally in lust with Jeremy, but his impudence cannot be tolerated. However, Jeremy tells Shawn that to keep his job he’ll let Shawn fuck him. Will Shawn take up the offer?

I love Piper Vaughn’s work, no secret. Shawn’s feelings grow as Jeremy makes an effort to behave, and as a result we see Jeremy from a different point of view too, as opposed to his smartass attitude. Jeremy has a surprising vulnerability in the end, and seeing these two come together was so sweet and so damn hot. By far my favorite story. A wonderful ending to the anthology.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Fever by Julia Talbot, Aaron Michaels, Sean Michael, Rob Rosen, Mychael Black, Katherine Halle, Kiernan Kelly and BA Tortuga


Title: Fever
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages: 195
Characters: Multi-Characters
POV: 3rd, 1st
Sub-Genre: Cowboys/Western, Contemporary, Historical, Adventure, MM, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

Who doesn’t love a cowboy? Especially when he’s in love with another cowboy? With a dash of historical, a cup of rodeo and whole passel of hot men, this anthology features eight short stories with cowboys who are bound to give you a fever.

Stories included in Fever are:
Loose Riggin’ by Julia Talbot
Two Buckets and a Snakeskin Suit by Aaron Michaels
Torn by Sean Michael
Cowboy and Indian by Rob Rosen
Heart of Dixie by Mychael Black
Ready to Ride by Katherine Halle
White Hat/Black Hat by Kiernan Kelly
In the Pocket, a Roughstock story by BA Tortuga

Review:

Loose Riggin’ By Julia Talbot

After an injury that puts him out of commission from bullriding, Baron gets an offer from young rider Arlen that he can’t refuse. Travel together, save money, and Arlen will take care of things. Baron thinks that’s a great deal, but he has a few other things he sure wishes Arlen would take care of, too. Can he convince Arlen that their new friendship can withstand a few kisses?

A wonderful start to this cowboy anthology. Baron is older and experienced, and his old traveling partner gone and left him for a woman. Arlen is young but he’s got mad skills, and his traveling companion did the same number on him. Both feel the attraction, but decide to wait to see if they can both cut it in the big leagues of bullriding. Everything about this story rings true, is sweet as honey and romantic like a bouquet of roses. We’re left off at the fade to black sexual moment but you love these two guys so much by then that you don’t even care you got robbed of the hot sex. Highly recommended!

Two Buckets and a Snakeskin Suit by Aaron Michaels

Sparks fly–along with a good deal of dust and dirt–when a newly-minted Las Vegas lawyer meets a sexy Australian cowboy in Virginia City, Nevada. Marcus never expected to find someone like Vic at the Virginia City Camel Races. Tall and lanky with a strong jaw, a chiseled chin, and an Australian accent to boot, Vic’s the sexiest cowboy Marcus ever met. A guy would do just about anything to impress someone like Vic. Even something totally off the wall, like riding a camel in one of the races. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan, right?

This one was a fun story about camel racing cowboys. Vic is a charmer, and Marcus falls for him—literally while trying to impress the cowboy-chiropractor. Being taught to ride a camel in five minutes before the race isn’t so easy for Marcus, and trying to figure out Vic even more so. But Vic knows what he wants and goes after it. There was nothing I didn’t like about this story. The humor, the nice guys, the hot sex, the promise of a loving future. What’s not to like? Recommended.

Torn by Sean Michael

Pistol loves nothing more than the adrenaline rush of riding broncs; well, almost nothing. He loves Bender the most. Injured and tired and not sure if he’s going to be able to ever ride again, Pistol comes home from the rodeo circuit, just hoping that Bender will welcome him with open arms after yet another long absence.

Coming home after a bad injury is one thing. Coming home believing his lover and partner want nothing to do with him is another. Pistol is afraid Bender won’t want either a traveling cowboy or an injured one. But Bender only has eyes for one prize, and that’s Pistol. This story has great sex and two guys who have to learn how to live together when circumstances change permanently. Pistol is stubborn and Bender has a temper, but they have a tender side with each other. I can see these two as old men sitting on the porch watching the sunset long after the story’s done. I liked this story a lot.

Cowboy and Indian by Rob Rosen

Jed is on his way from Tombstone to the rodeo just outside of Tucson for a chance at the fifty dollar bronco bucking prize. Halfway there he encounters a lone Apache warrior, Taza. The two form an instant bond, so Taza decides to accompany Jed on his journey and also try for the prize. Except, as they soon find out, Indians can’t normally ride in a rodeo. Then again, at this particular rodeo, normal is thrown right on out the window. And the fifty dollars isn’t the only reward in store for these two lovers, who, when it comes to cowboys and Indians, are far from normal themselves.

A hot encounter by a creek leads to an extremely passionate affair between a cowboy and an Indian. Jed can’t resist the beautiful warrior, and suggest a partnership. Taza agrees, and they go off to find success in the rodeo. What they find is each other. These two men are rather stereotypical, and we don’t get to know a lot about them, but it doesn’t matter because their connection transcends the physical. Though there’s a lot of sex here, that bond solidifies into a companionship of like-minded men. And I liked that the story didn’t have to end in a shootout but rather on a positive note. Not bad at all.

Heart of Dixie by Mychael Black

Mack Sexton has been the pillar of the Sexton clan since his brother’s death almost six years ago. He’s seen his nephew Robbie find true love, and he’s watched other family friends come together as lovers. Mack has had his own share of fantasies, and they all involve his friend, Les Spencer — recently divorced and straight. Just when Mack gets the notion to call Robbie and ask for advice, Les surprises him in more ways than one.

Dreaming of his best friend, a divorced straight man, for years has made Mack lose faith in ever being with the object of his dreams, Les. But Les is tired of waiting, and he goes after what he wants, risking rejection. This story is warm, with a wonderful family and friends who love and support each other. Les fits right in, and throughout the story I was smiling happily as things worked out so well. Mack and Les took a gamble to change their relationship from friendship to lovers, and it pays off. Recommended.

Ready to Ride by Katherine Halle

Eric is an orthopedic surgeon volunteering his time with the Justin Sports Medicine program, traveling the rodeo circuit two months out of the year. Underneath it all, though, he’s a cowboy at heart and not just because he was born and raised in Texas. He’s a cowboy at heart because Ben Greene, champion Saddle Bronc rider, owns his heart. They haven’t put words to what they’re doing, even though they’ve been together for almost a year. But when Ben is bucked off during a ride, resulting in a season-ending injury, both these cowboys might have to finally acknowledge what they have and what they mean to each other.

These two, Eric and Ben, are a match made in heaven. They complement each other to the tee. Where Eric worries as a logical individual, Ben is wild and reckless, impulsive and more action than talk. They need each other for the balance, I think. This story has a lot of conversations over the phone when the two men have great distance between. But still from every line we get the warmth, friendship and love they feel for one another. I loved the banter and dialogue between them, and when they are reunited, their passion burns. Recommended.

White Hat/Black Hat by Kiernan Kelly

In 1968, Dallas and Stone are two young men from Texas cow country who’ve left horses and cattle behind to pursue their dreams of stardom. They meet for the first time on a Hollywood soundstage, where they’ve been cast to star in a television western. Attracted to one another from the start, they live in a time when same sex relationships, particularly those of lead actors, are kept in the closet, and they go to great lengths to keep theirs a secret by necessity. As the years pass, they continue their charade, until they are ultimately faced with the decision to either slink away into anonymity, or come out and declare their love for each other to the world.

Forty years of being under the spotlight and never being truly yourself? Never being able to publically show your love for a man, and even having to pretend to hate his guts so no one can make any assumptions? That’s rough. Dallas and Stone clearly belong together. Where Dallas is calmer but more sure of his gay ways, Stone has a temper and he’s almost paranoid about getting outed and losing everything he’s worked for. Sneaking in the night, quick blowjobs in the back of limos, never daring to hold hands, let alone kiss, where someone might see them. I felt so bad for these men. The notion that actors have to maintain their heartbreaker role when not filming just so some housewives can get their panties wet is just beyond silly. I wanted Dallas and Stone to find peace—and since their show is over after forty years and they’re about to get lifetime achievement awards, perhaps that time has arrived. At the end, I was so happy for and proud of them. Love is love. It should never have to be hidden.

In the Pocket, a Roughstock story by BA Tortuga

Sterling loves being a bullfighter, and he’s good at it, too — even his hero Coke Pharris says so. So what if maybe he has a crush on Coke, it’s not like it’s affecting his job or hurting anyone. Someone should tell that to Dillon, the clown and Coke’s partner. Colby Tyburn has been watching Sterling for months and hankering to meet the man. When Dillon introduces the two of them, sparks start to fly and just maybe, Dillon’s not only distracted Sterling from his Coke, but done a fine bit of matchmaking while he was at it.

This last story in the anthology starts off really confusing. There are a lot of people mentioned and we even get their points of view though they’re not the leads here. I was utterly baffled. Perhaps fans of the series recognize the names and feel wowed. I wasn’t. For a short story, that approach doesn’t work. Nonetheless, once Colby and Sterling get going, the story takes off to the stratosphere of hotness. Sterling’s a new bullrider and a virgin. Colby wants him. They go to a hotel to get drinks, and one thing leads to another. Great sex follows. Sterling’s eager to learn and Colby has the patience to teach. I liked these two together a lot. I could see them living their cowboy lives and forming a lasting relationship. So, in the end, not a bad conclusion to the anthology.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Queerwolf by Rob Rosen

Title: Queerwolf
Author: Rob Rosen
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 138
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Fantasy, Gay
Kisses: 4





Blurb:

When you wake up on a ferry, naked, in a pool of blood, there’s nowhere else to go but up. Up, that is, into the arms of your hunky upstairs neighbor. And so starts the comic misadventure of Blake and Ted as they go from San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and back again, collecting their motley pack, not to mention a whole slew of unexpected surprises, along the way. Will good win out? Can different really be better? And can the Queerwolf keep his new breed of pack together and alive? Read on to find out, but better leave the doors locked because this pack travels on its stomach… and you could be next on the menu!

Review:

Blake a werewolf, which was dormant inside of him till recent, finds himself naked on ferry with a pool of blood surrounding him and no idea how it occurred and a trashed up apartment. Ted, a tall and lean, dark hair, blue eyes, and a smile that puts the twinkling lights of heaven to shame, helps out Blake to locate and find Blake’s kind since the pack in his hometown want to kill him since he is different from them. Throughout the story Blake finds out the truth as to why he is a werewolf, why packs in several states wants to kill him and his kind and the powers which develop and aid in his search for Blake’s pack along with his family.

Queerwolf was an enjoyable book filled with funny characters which will leave you wanting to read more. Although the characters must travel long distances to find werewolf’s like Blake, which you will discover why in the story (wink), they encounter many of Blake’s kind and have to do the impossible to succeed in finding his own pack and persuade them to stay with him to fight off other packs which threaten to destroy them since they are different.
I highly recommend this book and I assure you, you won’t want to put the book down [grinning].

Reviewed By: Jen

Rob Rosen says Cane Sugar All the Way!! OH, and F*&^ the Lines!

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Rob. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you stepped into writing?

I’ve always been a reader of books and always felt like I had a good story to tell. With over 200 published short stories around the globe, in every medium imaginable, plus 4 novels, who could’ve guessed I had so many? I started writing 10 years ago and haven’t stopped since.

When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?

I’ve always written m/m romance. It’s my favorite genre. Boy meets boy, boys fall in love, happily ever after. It warms my cockles, so to speak. Then I toss in a good dose of mystery, smut, and zaniness to make sure that my work stands out. Though my first novel, “Sparkle”, is mostly a coming-out story. That’s what I mostly read when I started reading gay fiction, so that’s what I wrote about first. But even my erotica falls into the romance genre. Romance and comedy. It’s a great pairing. Like Doris Day and Cary Grant, only with Rock Hudson and Cary Grant.

How long did it take you to get published?

Which time? Some short stories take a day. Some take a year. My novels have ranged from 3 years down to one day. It’s all a crap shoot, I guess. Just a bit of luck and fate and who’s reading your work that day. Gotta have thick skin in this business, and a lot of patience.

Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?

I was reading gay books back in the late 80’s, and most of them were kind of on the sad side, with very few comedies. So I decided that I’d write happy, unPC gay books, somewhat farcical, but always with a happy ending. I just knew I had the talent. Just felt it boiling up inside of me. So I guess the profession chose me as much as I chose it. And, with my track record, I guess we both chose correctly. In fact, I can’t imagine not being a writer. If a week goes by and I haven’t written anything, I start to get really tense.

On a typical day, how do you spend your time?

9-5 work, 5-10 life, with about 10 hours a week writing, more if I can.

Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?

Write a thousand words or so, revise, write another thousand, revise, lather, rinse, repeat until the story is done, then edit.

Coke or Pepsi?

Mexican Coke! Cane sugar all the way!

When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?

Freely with a smidge of planning. I usually have a beginning worked out right away and an idea for an ending. The middle goes directly from my brain to the keyboard with very little pre-thought. I like my characters to come to life on their own that way. Then even I get surprised.

What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?

None before. Some while I’m writing. Especially location research. All my books occur in places I’ve lived in or travelled extensively in, so research really isn’t that necessary. Write about what you know, as the saying goes.

How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?

Fuck the line! No lines! I spit on your line! I love my characters to be as far out there as possible. I love nelly queens and butch dykes and lunatic drag queens. The wackier the better. I write from a way-gay perspective. But then again, I’ve always lived in gay cities, surrounded by gay people, where being gay is fairly the norm. So, for me, the stereotypes are the most fun and the most real to life. Though, to be fair, I do want my characters to be loved by the reader, and I make sure that they’re equal parts loveable and wicked. As for them being based on me or people I know, sure, it’s more fun that way. My narrators are usually me-centered. (BRAVO)

What is your favorite color?

Chartreuse. Really. I know, uber-gay, right?

How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?

All 4 of my books took right around 6 months to write and edit. I write and revise as I go along. I write a bit, go back and reread, and then move forward again, over and over until it’s done.

Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?

Never ever. Fingers crossed it stays that way. I can sit down and write a 3,000 word story from start to finish with barely any pre-thought to it. Which is why I think I was born to be a writer. It comes way too naturally for me if you take fate out of the equation.

How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?

Zany. Off-beat. Dark. I’m a New York Jew. It’s inherent. And I love drag queens. They can do and say anything. So every book of mine has at least one drag queen moment.

What is the most frequently asked Rob question?

Do I write my erotica under a pseudonym. And the answer is HELL NO. I write it, so why would I be embarrassed by it? Heck, my mom loves it that I wrote erotica for 5+ years for MEN and Freshmen magazines. Rob Rosen, that’s what my mama named me, so why go by any other?

What are you working on now?

Novel #5: “Queerwolf”
It’s my first novel that’s a romance mixed with speculative fiction. But it’s still mostly a comedy, like the rest of my books. And a romance, of course.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?

Never, ever give up. If you love what you’ve written, eventually so will someone else. If someone turns you down, just move on to the next person. It might take one or it might take 50, but eventually you’ll work will find a home if you keep at it.

When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?

Marketing takes as much time as writing. I call it a necessary evil. Your fruit will languish on the vine if it’s not tended to, so I email, email, email and contact everyone I can to get my book noticed.

What kind of books do you like to read?

All kinds. A good book is a good book. But I do love a carefree beach-read the best. Light and airy and happy.

Pizza and Chicken Wings? What kind?

Are you kidding? I have a 32 inch waist. And I plan on leaving this world that way!

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?

Travelling. I get some of my best ideas for a story or a novel while on the road. Plus, my mind is more free to create when I’m not weighed down by my normal life.

What future projects do you have in the works?

Look out for “Queerwolf” down the line. Apart from that, I have a short story published at least once a month in some sort of anthology or another.

Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

www.therobrosen.com
And check out my celebrity encounters page. Somehow, me and my hubby constantly run into D-list stars.

Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from your book with us?

How about right from the beginning…

Chapter 1
Fresh Baked Biscuits

Psst. Hey, hey you up there. Yep, you, you looking down all confused like. I know we’re not supposed to talk, you and me, but, heck, if I’m gonna be in it up to my ears, might as well take as many innocent bystanders right along with me, right? Not that you look all that innocent, mind you, but still.

Anyway, the shit already hit the fan — fuck it, fans, plural — and damn if I didn’t leave my shit-smock back in New York. Who knew it would come in handy, right? I mean, funerals are sad and all, but they’re not supposed to be friggin’ deadly. Least not for those of us still around to witness them, I mean. Granny, on the other hand, well now, it couldn’t have been more deadly for her, I suppose. Still, from what those nice people down at the mortuary told me, she was the prettiest corpse you ever laid eyes on, which, considering she was ninety when she kicked that old proverbial bucket, that’s really saying something. Heck, they said that by the time they were done with her she didn’t look a day over sixty. Kind of bitter irony, I suppose: looking your best and never getting a chance to see it. Though with Granny, I wouldn’t put it past her. She was probably hovering over the service the entire time.

“Wait a darn minute,” I bet she was hollering over to that angel, Gabriel. “Yeah, yeah, I see your damn light; just hold your horses. Gotta find out what these folks really thought of me.”

Truth was, it wasn’t a whole hell of a lot. People respected her, for sure, but love is such a strong word. And so is hate. Oh, I certainly loved her, of course, but she was my granny. Only family I ever really had. But she was more of an acquired taste. Sort of like escargot. I mean, you can cover it up with rich sauces and charge a pretty penny for it, but when it comes right down to it, you’re still just eating a bunch of snails. That was Granny, all right: a bit of a slug with one damn fine, pretty shell.

Sorry, Granny, but I’m not telling this nice person anything they couldn’t just as easily find out for themselves. I mean, you just had to listen to the scuttlebutt outside the funeral home if you wanted to get yourself an earful. Not that they weren’t trying to keep it from me, her only living relative and supposed heir to her fortune, though. Except I heard it just the same. Loud and clear.

Wait, wait. You caught that supposed heir, huh? Well, and rightly so. See, I assumed everything was coming to me, too. Like I said, we were all each other had, in terms of blood. My parents, my mom being Granny’s only daughter, see, both of them were killed in a car accident when I was just a baby. No other family from what I’d been told. No aunts or uncles, maybe some distant cousins nobody ever talked about. No one sending Christmas cards who wasn’t on the payroll, though. So the estate should’ve come to me. Lock, stock, and barrel.

Smoking barrel, as it turned out.

Cue the doom and gloom music.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I mean, you have to be wondering why this is the first time I’d been back home in nearly ten years, right? Well, that was Granny’s doing, too. Come to think of it, everything was Granny’s doing. Always was. And, based on the reading of her will, would be for quite some time to come.

“Nothing for you down here, Trip,” she told me, way back when, a week shy of my eighteenth birthday as she packed me up and shipped me off, first and last time she ever stepped foot inside an airport. “Just me and a bunch of pissy servants out in the middle of nowhere. Best for you to go up North, get yourself a decent education.”

Not that I had a choice, really. Once she made up her mind, that was all she wrote. Besides, she was right. Granny lived deep, deep inside the South Carolina low country, and that’s about as deep as a fellow can get, the nearest neighbor a good several miles away down a barely paved road. More alligators than people in those parts. Still, it was the first time I’d been away, and I was pretty near terrified. And the North? Granny was a die-hard southerner. Most I heard about the North was that it was full of people who talked too loud, too fast, and ate with their mouths open. Meaning, about all I could picture were folks with really strong jaws. Plus, there wasn’t a Baptist in the bunch. Least not her kind of Baptist. But, like I said, that’s what she wanted for me and that’s what I got. A kiss and a hug and a wallet full of cash, and I was on my merry way.

New York City.

And, man, did I ever take a bite out of that apple. Sucked it dry, seeds and all. Two college degrees, a handful of ex boyfriends, and a closet full of Marc Jacobs later, and, wham, you got yourself the man standing before you today. All traces of the South were wiped clean the hell away. Mostly. Which is why, getting off that plane in Savannah, I felt like a fish out of water. Catfish, if I had my way. Southern fried.

Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it?

Anyway, not like me and Granny didn’t see each other in all that time. She’d get her chauffeur to drive her up to Atlanta, fly me down, meet me at the Peachtree Hotel, get us a couple of suites overlooking the city. She’d take me shopping, catch me up on her antics, and try to pry me for mine. Though good luck with that, right? Would’ve put her in her grave way before her ninetieth birthday, let me tell you. A boy can antic the hell on out in New York City. Antic enough to leak on over to New Jersey, for that matter. Suffice it to say, Granny got the watered down version. Buckets of water, really.

Oh, she knew I was gay, and all. Would’ve taken a whole ocean to water that little tidbit down. And let me tell you, there’d still be some flame left over. Still, the Southern Baptist in her got put on the back burner when it came to the gay stuff. Granny was a veritable fag hag when she wanted to be, in fact. Dragged me to more than my share of gay bars in Midtown Atlanta. Queen of the ball, she was. Queen of the queens of the ball, to be exact.

But that was the side of Granny only I ever got to see, when she let her hair down, kicked up her heels. Orthopedic though they were. Back at the mansion, and, yes, it was as antebellum as Tara ever was, she was a prim and proper and very, very bible-toting-southern lady: hair in a bun, blouse buttoned up to her neck, lips pursed, eyes steely gray. The woman put the fear of God into you, she did. Me included, most times.

And, man, was it ever hard to go back there, what with her gone. Place was soulless. All shell, the snail now in nothing but plain old wood. I gulped, standing on the porch, a trail of sweat bee-lining down my face, luggage off to the side. Then I rang the bell, I Wish I Was in Dixie gonging from within as I took a deep breath, the fragrant smell of magnolia blossoms wafting languidly up my nostrils, with jasmine close behind.

“Old times there are not forgotten,” I sang, tapping my foot as the door creaked on open.

“Trip, that you?” came the familiar voice, her head poking out, a smile spreading wide across her dark, round face.

My smile instantly matched hers. “Pearl?” I managed, my heart very nearly bursting at the seams.

The door continued moving open. “Who else would it be, boy?”

She held out her arms to me, rolls of fat dangling down, swinging like a pendulum. I ran in and gave her a hug, face buried in layers of cotton and breast. She smelled like fresh cut corn and okra, a splash of vanilla with a dash of Kentucky bourbon. She smelled, in fact, like my childhood. Her arms closed in tight, the hug like a vice as a tear streamed down her cheek before tickling my forehead.

“You’re looking good, Pearl,” I managed, voice muffled.

She laughed. “All you seeing is titty, boy,” she chided, slapping me on the shoulder.

“Well, could be worse,” I retorted, backing up an inch. “You could be much taller and I could be much shorter.”

She paused, letting that image splash across her brain. Then she laughed and smacked me twice as hard. “You’re a foul talking boy, Trip Jackson. Who done taught you how to talk that way?” She winked and led me inside.

“My lips are sealed,” I replied, closing the door behind me, the smell of magnolia replaced by Pine Sol, jasmine by fresh baked biscuits. “You got strawberry jam to go with those?” I asked, head craning from side to side, taking it all in after being away for so very long.

“With butter and honey,” she told me, grabbing my hand and leading me inside the belly of the beast, not a stick of furniture moved in well over a decade, and all of it clean as a whistle, not a speck of dust to be found. Pearl saw me staring and nodded. “She’s gone in body only, sugar. I swear, I think she’s still around watching me like she always did. Making sure I keep it just like she likes it. Fussy old biddy.”

I laughed, despite myself. “That any way to talk about the dead, Pearl?”

We walked into the kitchen, the yeasty aroma so intoxicating it very nearly made me hard in my jeans. Then she replied to my question. “Trust me, boy, that’s saying it nicely.” She moved to the oven and removed the tray of biscuits, flaky and perfect, just a smidgen of brown around the edges. She cut one open for me, a puff of steam rising up, before she smeared a slab of butter on top, a swirl of honey, a glob of jam over it all. Then she served it to me on Granny’s favorite china, a glass of whole milk set to the side.

I smiled wide. “It’s a miracle her heart didn’t go out long before now,” I remarked, taking in Lord only knew how much cholesterol and fat. Gleefully. It went down smooth as silk, blocking several arteries along its murderous path.

Pearl returned my smile with one of her own, big and white against a sea of honey-colored brown. “Boy, it’s a miracle her liver didn’t go out long before that. Only reason she died was because we plum ran out of that Jack Daniels of hers.” She made the sign of the cross over her chest. “God rest her soul.”

“And bless her liver, too,” I added, mimicking the gesture.

“Amen.”

She joined me at the kitchen table, two biscuits to my one. “Funeral’s tomorrow, huh?” I asked, almost in a whisper. She merely nodded. “Hard to believe she’s gone.” Again the nod, half a biscuit downed. “Then what happens, Pearl?” I looked at her like I did when I was a little boy and I broke something, something Granny was going to be awfully pissed about me breaking. Pearl always knew the right thing to say to comfort me. Sadly, I wasn’t a boy any longer, much as I felt like one right at that moment.

She swallowed and then gulped. “Her attorney is in London. Can’t get back until a couple of days from now. He’s got the will in a safe up in Charleston and then there’ll be a reading as soon as he retrieves it and brings it on down here. That what you meant by then what happens?” she asked, in between another hearty bite.

I swallowed too, but not because I had a thick slab of biscuit gliding down my throat. “I suppose. I mean, it is a pretty big estate, huh?”

She craned her head this way and that, multiple chins sloshing about as she started in on biscuit number two. “I think that’s what you’d call a gross understatement, Trip.” She laughed, crumbs flying to and fro from between lips so thick they’d make Mick Jagger jealous.

See, in terms of money, Granny was rich as Rockefeller and twice as ornery. My family had always been rich, going back to the Civil War. Rich from cotton. Fields and fields of it. All spared from Grant’s torch. Marched right on past us and decided on Atlanta instead. Thank goodness. Anyway, the house stayed put, every last white column and stick of silver of it, all of it passed down, down, down. Stopping dead in its tracks with me, I supposed. There’s that bitter irony again, right? Last living relative is queer as a three dollar bill, which, needless to say, they didn’t have in confederate money. The genes were staying put in my, well, jeans, so to speak. Still, I’d never laid eyes on Granny’s will before. The inheritance was all assumption on my part, and would be until the lawyer arrived.

I finished my biscuit and drank my milk. It went down cold and satisfying. Then I washed my plate and glass and turned again to Pearl. “Mind if I go and have a look around?” I asked. “Been a long while.”

She shrugged. “Suit yourself, boy. Place’ll be all yours soon enough, I reckon.” She smiled, her eyes softening. “I missed you, Trip,” she added.

I moved in and placed a warm, wet kiss on her cheek. “Same here, Pearl. Same here.”

Southern Fried by Rob Rosen


Title: Southern Fried
Author: Rob Rosen
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 244
Characters: Trip Jackson, Zeb Jones
POV: 1st & 2nd Persons
Sub-Genre: Mystery
Kisses: 4




Blurb:

Southern Fried, the romantic misadventure of Trip Jackson and his stable boy, Zeb Jones, is about the love of family, the love of one’s heritage, and the love between friends, both old and new. It’s as antebellum as Tara ever was, but with a deliciously suspenseful and sexy twist. Because what our heroes are quick to discover is that not all is as it appears to be, and sometimes life can get turned upside down when you least expect it. Especially when lip-smacking romance, deep-dish humor, and a side of mystery fall on your plate, all, of course, served up southern-style.

Review:

Southern Fried is a culinary crusade that brings the South to life through the voice of Trip Jackson, the grandson of an old money family with a skeleton or two in its aristocratic closets. Trip invites the reader right along with him and his merry band of amateur sleuths and suspects to take a peek at the mischief and mayhem that occurs when politics, bribery, murder, coercion, deception, betrayal, and scandal come together for a deep fried, grit eatin’, Hoppin’ John of a joy ride.

Granny Mary Jackson, the matriarch of the Jackson clan, has recently gone to her glory, and along with her went some closely guarded family secrets. Secrets to Trip, at least, who grew up believing he was an only child. Yeah, not so much. Seems one of those closeted little skeletons happens to be Beau Pellingham, Trip’s heretofore unknown half-brother, born out of wedlock to Trip’s mother and a certain conservative Republican senator’s son, then given up for adoption to cover up the scandal.

The distinct issue with a cover up, however, is that there’s always the risk of an explosive uncovering, which is exactly what happens when Granny blows the lid off the long held and closely guarded existence of a second Jackson heir, naming him in her will. For Trip, whose parents had died in an automobile accident many years before, the idea of another family member to welcome to the fold is a dream come true. For Beau? No, Beau’s not a happy man. Seems Granny was pulling off some pretty sneaky behind-the-scenes machinations of her own to ensure Beau and Trip would never come face to face until after she’d passed. Why? Well, that’s where the politics, bribery, murder, coercion, deception, betrayal, and scandal come into play.

The Pellingham family has a lot to lose if their dirty laundry is aired. Political campaigns live and die by muckraking and mudslinging. The more muck to rake and mud to sling, the deeper the politician gets buried. The last thing Robert E. Pellingham or his father needs is for the voters to catch wind of the family’s sordid affairs, which also includes Robert E.’s closeted gay son, Portnoy. Seems the closets are a bit crowded in this comical, carnal romp that’s part murder mystery, part guide to Southern cuisine, and part touching look into the importance of belonging to a family, regardless of whether those you love share your DNA.

Trip, his love interest, Jeb, the stable boy; along with Jake, the pool man, and Stella, the handyman-woman help to unravel this twisted tale, all while trying to avoid becoming part of the murder mystery themselves. Did the butler do it? The gardener? The maid, perhaps? I’ll never tell.

What I will say, however, is that Rob Rosen has a perfect sense of comedic timing and a knack for creating both memorable narrators, as well as some entirely charming and entertaining supporting cast members. Even Granny, who never spends a single moment alive within the pages of this story, is, herself, a commanding presence, which is no small feat, yet provides for some touching moments.

Southern Fried was a funny, heartwarming and erotic journey through Dixieland, though for me, the adventure would’ve been a bit less bumpy had it gone through another copyedit to tidy up some of the grammatical issues. That didn’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the story at all, but it did make it a bit difficult for me to remain in the flow of the plot, from time to time.

Otherwise, I’d say pour yourself a, blech, peach brandy, hold the horse tranquilizers, and enjoy.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love by Rob Rosen

Title: Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love
Author: Rob Rosen
Publisher: Fierce Publishing
Pages: 256
Characters: Bruce “Secret” Miller, William “Sparkle” Astan
POV: 1st Person
Sub-Genre: Mystery/Comedy
Kisses: 4.5




Blurb:

Often hilarious, sometimes touching, frequently madcap, and irresistibly charming, the stories in each chapter follow two San Francisco gay men from one adventure to the next. Told to you, the reader, as if were actually there, learn how they came out, had their first sexual experiences, got pierced and then tattooed, became drag queens, adopted a nearly full grown son, placed a personal ad, and grew up to become the best of friends. Along the way, find out how many people wanted Sparkle dead and discover how much fun the bars and back streets of San Francisco really are. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and, in the end, you may just learn a thing or two. Your mamma never told you that being queer could be this much fun.

Review:

Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love is a gloriously, uproariously funny and immensely touching novel that’s impossible to pigeonhole into a single genre. Part who-dunnit, part satire, part memoir, with a perfectly portioned serving of poignancy on the side, this story will surely touch your heart and tickle your funny bone, not to mention awaken your inner Sherlock Holmes, as you work to figure out who, among an ever growing list of suspects, might want to kill Sparkle.

Bruce “Secret” Miller narrates this tale directly to his reading audience in a voice that’s utterly impossible not to be completely charmed by. As the story begins, the plot’s mystery is revealed at the hospital bedside of Secret’s BFF, William “Sparkle” Astan, as he’s lost in a coma after being shot in the chest. Who did it? Well, that’s the jumping off point to this tale, as Secret takes the reader back in time to the beginning of his journey from the closet in Kansas to ab-fab San Francisco, where he’s “adopted” by Sparkle and initiated into the wondrousness of what it means to be an out and proud gay man.

From tattoos and nipple piercings to nude beaches to recreational drugs, drag queens, and the ups and downs of dating and looking for true and lasting love, Secret holds nothing back as he manages the challenges of what it means to be Sparkle’s friend. Sparkle’s not the kind of guy it’s easy to love, you see. His inner bitch is never far from the surface, and she equals, in sheer enormity, both his ego and his derision toward pretty much everyone and everything Sparkle sees. But the reader soon comes to understand that there’s more to Sparkle than just the snark. There’s a heart and soul there too, which makes him immanently loveable in spite of himself.

As their journey takes them through the ups and downs of life, from getting in touch with their inner drag queens to death threats and prison to community service and becoming mentors/father figures/big brothers to a troubled gay teen, Secret and Sparkle build a home and a family, not as partners but as friends who care for and about each other, even when it pushes the reserves of sanity and patience.

Along the way, the reader plays witness to Secret finally losing his virginity, embracing the hazing that is his introduction to his new life, as well as making the difficult trip back to Kansas, supported by Sparkle and his teenage ward, Peter, as Bruce (not Secret) finds the courage to come out to his parents, which results in a touching and uplifting addition to the story.

Secret, Sparkle, Peter, Sharon, Kiki, and all the other wonderful characters met along the way will manage to thoroughly charm and entertain those who are fortunate enough to trek along with them through their adventures.

Rob Rosen has delivered a book that, in spite of some technical flaws that tried their best to pull me out of the story from time to time, drew me in from page one and kept my attention to the very end with his sense of humor, impeccable timing, and cast of appealing characters who each added his or her own distinct voice and personality to the mix, and served to paint their own unique way into the big and oh-so colorful picture.

And that mystery—you know, the one about who shot Sparkle? Was it an ex-lover, jealous boyfriend, jilted lesbian stripper, or any of the other people Sparkle manages to offend or simply piss off along the way? Well, you’ll have to discover that one for yourself. But trust me, it’s worth every step of the trip to get there. And oh, what a complete and total trip it is.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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