Sonoran Heat – Katrina Strauss

Author: Katrina Strauss
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Word Count: 48,547
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $7.00

The beginning of this story definitely tries to grab you – almost a bit too fiercely. However, I was intrigued enough to continue reading and pleased to find that the beginning scene of a very young trio, was not a main story plot – but the background for the true love story. It did take me some time to be ok with the age difference between the main characters, which was also a theme of the story – a man in his 40s and a 21-year old. They did have a strong connection and bond, and age faded into the background as their love blossomed.

This is an easy and quick read, and probably could have lent itself to a longer story – apparently I think all of the good ones need to be longer these days! There were a few cliches throughout, but presented in a way that wasn’t so in your face; instead, woven into the plot line quite nicely. I am curious if there is a sequel or two, based on some of the characters introduced as there was enough ground work to create more fun in the Arizona desert.

The sex in this story is very tame and vanilla, but hot when it happens as it is filled with passion, trust and understanding. Each character continues to work through their pasts and hopes and fears for the future, that each coming together helps cement their relationship and sense of belonging together. The sex will not ignite any pages, but it is tender and thoughtful and fun to read. The focus here is their relationship, not having sex for sex sake.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat:
Plot: ♥♥♥

I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good love story; interaction between an older guy and younger man; and loves a well-written story (without minding some usual themes). This is a particularly good read for newbies to m/m as it’s not at all scary and quite tame with a “real life” story plot.

 

Trust Me – LA Witt

Author: LA Witt
Publisher: Champagne Books
Word Count: 89,334
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.99

Homicide detective Brian is called out to a gruesome murder and is stunned when one of the victims is the spinning image of his boyfriend. What ensues is an intricate tale with many twists and turns as he tries to figure out what happened at that scene, with his boyfriend James, as the main suspect. Will his personal relationship get in the way of his job?

This was a great cop/detective read! It was jam-packed with evidence, several chases, endless questions, and more twists that you could even imagine. And jam-packed in the middle of all of that, is a relationship between the lead detective and the prime suspect. Brian is constantly questioning himself and his relationship throughout, but still finds himself drawn to James. Their desire and passion is almost tangible each time they come together – but their struggles in between those times, adds even more fuel to their fire.

The sex was quick and hot with one or two tender sessions thrown in there; filled with feelings of desire, lust and turmoil. Very vanilla, but unexpected and hot nonetheless.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥♥

I would recommend this to anyone who loves cop dramas and the bevy of suspense around the crime. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be surprised – and also fall a bit in love with both characters here… even if you fight against loving James.

 

Dutch Treat – Andrew Grey

Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Count (ePub): 161
Published: July 2011
Rainbow EBooks: $5.59

As the story begins, you find the mind character in his first “long-term” relationship (all of six months), and about to head out on a work assignment to the Netherlands. He’s nervous about the effect his five months away will have on his relationship, but learns that he does not have to worry about that for long. When he arrives in his new country, he immediately runs into Stephan – a colleague who is ready to help him find his way in his new land.

To be honest, I was very disappointed with this book. I am a huge Andrew Grey fan, and I felt that this one lacked his usual magic. There was no passion or connection between the two main characters. I kept thinking how arbitrary their story seemed and how they fell “in love” out of nowhere. I didn’t even know that they liked each other! In addition to their lack of connection, there were a lot of superfluous details about the Netherlands that never played back into the story – perhaps they were edited out, but either way, the details were a bit tenuous. On the positive side, I found myself very interested in the work story and what the outcome would be with that drama – probably not the best sign when reading a romance novel.

The sex was forgettable… really, I don’t really remember them having sex. Grey tried to incorporate a D/s situation, but it was an undertone that was never really brought to light or explored.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat:
Plot: ♥♥

This was a quick read and had a fun subplot (the work drama), especially for people who may work in the corporate world and it took place in an unique location. So perhaps this would be a good read for people looking to explore new settings and a light read.

Reverb – Jet Mykles

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Amanda Steiger – Feet of Clay

Author: Amanda Steiger
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 28,950
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $3.99

This was a very short read – about 64 pages or so, and I was wishing that it was longer. Steiger wrote a beautiful story with all of the necessary elements, jammed into a short read. The characters were both complicated and relate-able, even if the circumstances were a bit unrealistic. As you read it, you’re not stumbling over sex or the relationship like so many short stories tend to do – the relationship develops with time, and happens only when forced.

The prose was well written and somewhat inspiring for anyone who fancies themselves as a writer. This was what kept you wanting more. Which is why I wanted this story to be full-length – I want to know how both of the characters developed, a bit more of each back-story, and how they would overcome everything together going forward. While none of those items were addressed in this read, the fact that there is so much more to explore and I STILL enjoyed it, is a feat in itself.

This is a m/m romance – Steiger plays a little with the thought or notion of Dominance/submission, but it’s not fully played out, nor would it be considered D/s (yet – maybe book two?) for those within the lifestyle. The sex, once it happens later in the read, is hot, but the heat comes from their connection, not the graphic details – which is always a nice change of pace.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥

I would recommend this for anyone looking for a one-sitting read and enjoy every minute of it. Also, great inspirational words are written into the plot for aspiring writers (I’m going to keep this one on my eBook reader in case I need a jolt). Very tame sex, when put in perspective, but a great starter book for anyone interested in the genre without wanting to commit to a full-length novel.

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He Completes Me – Cardeno C.

Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 92,511
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

Zach reluctantly makes his way back to his hometown following his mother’s death. He hasn’t been in contact with his family since graduating high school. His memories about his family and his home town, are anything but pleasant. When he arrives, he wants to be sure that no one forgets just how “gay” he is – so he dresses and acts outrageous in defiance. But just as soon as he’s ready to denounce everything and everyone again, he meets his brother’s best friend, Aaron – and their instant attraction takes them both by surprise. What happens between them, is anything but easy – but hopefully worth the struggle.

I absolutely loved this book – it was my first time reading Cardeno C, and I am upset it has taken me so long. This story was well written, easy to read, but most of all – it was based in reality. The characters felt like real people – they had jobs, responsibilities, true internal struggles, and hurt emotions. These things weren’t cast aside or quickly wrapped up, just because there was a love story to take place – and I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s nice to read something lightly based in reality, but this was a refreshing gritty change of pace. I wasn’t able to put it down, and in fact read it in one go. There were several struggles throughout – being ok with yourself; getting over or better understanding things that happened as children (overcoming abuse and the guilt associated with it); building relationships in the here and now; choosing sides within a family; and being open to accept and give love unconditionally.

The sex was HOT. The first interaction was sizzling and occurred early on – just a sign of things to come. The sex was “making love” from the very first encounter, which just added to the interactions and struggles, making their coming together even hotter. There were a lot of different types of sexual interactions as well – in a bathroom stall, phone sex, and so on – great variety and true to the situation.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat:
Plot: ♥♥♥♥

This is a great read and I definitely recommend it to just about anyone! You won’t be able to put it down. This has very hot sex, but not anything outlandish (vanilla most of the time with some hints of D/s), but so loving and emotional, that you’ll be hooked. I loved it so much, I bough the next book in the series immediately – and loved it just as much!

No Apologies – Tibby Armstrong

Author: Tibby Armstrong
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 55,510
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

After being together for a decade, without ever admitting the truth of their relationship, screenwriter Greg Faulkner hopes that he is able to convince the one person in the world that means anything to him, to stay with him – even if that means addressing his biggest fear and admitting he’s gay. His partner, producer Aaron Blake is tired of hiding and doesn’t think that their love is enough anymore. He reluctantly agrees to attend Greg’s most recent and personal film project, with the promise of this being their last act as a “couple.” What unfolds on the screen is the history of their relationship together – out there for everyone to see.

I was rather surprised by this book, particularly in the manner in which it was told. To be honest, I’m a bit tired of flashback romances, and I was not very eager to read another one. However, this wasn’t nearly a flashback – it was their love story being told through the eyes of a movie. It was a very interesting tale and struggle, and one that unfolded quite gracefully as though a movie/screenplay would. The characters were well-written, although I did have some trouble reconciling some of their personality traits within the movie, to the actions in person. I would say this would be the only thing that was a bit confusing – the movie was not exactly their love story, but you didn’t find that out until the end leaving the reader to wonder what actually did occur between the two lovers. That being said, it was a quick read and a unique perspective of storytelling.

The sex was placed throughout – almost hard to read at first due to the young age at the time. But there was definitely love between both characters and their love was communicated and displayed through their sexual interactions.  The sex wasn’t graphic or detailed, but definitely passionate and vanilla.

This was a good read, and an even better story – I can almost see it being a real movie (has Armstrong thought of that?). I wished they were a bit older, but I’m guessing that’s my own personal preferences. It was an easy story to get into and hard to put this one down.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥

Read this book if you are looking for a new story and perspective; enjoy reading about young love; or watching the struggle of admitting who you are to yourself. This would be recommended for newbies to the m/m genre up through experienced readers. This is more of a romance than an erotica tale, but there is still some good sex throughout!

Red Skies – Joanne Kells

Author: Joanne Kells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 105,120
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

After years of merely going through the actions of life, Jesse finds himself confused and scared about the prospect of finding love again – especially now that he’s ready to acknowledge that he’s gay. His past relationship with a man, continues to haunt Jesse and holds him back from going after what he wants – the ranch owner’s son, Ade. Ade is not willing to be second fiddle to anyone, but quickly finds himself lusting after the quiet foreman. Will both men be able to overcome their internal struggles and desires and go after what they both need?

This story was well-written and very engaging. It started off slow, but hang in there because it’s definitely worth it in the end! One of the best features of this story is how well-developed each character is – even the ones who are not physically present. Almost immediately I found myself rooting for the characters and fully engaged with their emotional story and turmoil. The love story wasn’t rushed which I appreciated. There were a few places where I thought the “end” could have been rushed to fruition to satisfy a shorter book, but Kells stayed true to the story and characters. There was a lot of emotional turmoil and ups and downs throughout – I found myself smirking, tearing up, and every thing in between – which for me, shows the depth and flow of Kells writing.

The love romance was hot and so was the sex. Don’t expect a lot of sex in this story – it truly is more of a romance than an erotica read. However, when there was sex, it was passionate and emotional and always added significant value to their story together. There was a hint of some Dominance/submission, but it was very vanilla sex with more assertion at times, than anything else.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat:
Plot: ♥♥♥♥

This is a great read and I definitely recommend it. Hot cowboys, internal struggles, emotional turmoil, and did I say, hot cowboys? I think this is a good read for many different audiences – romance readers, new m/m readers, and those who love a good long book.

Making It Up – TC Blue

Author: TC Blue
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 66,669
Published: 2008
Fictionwise: $5.99

Dr. Thomas Paulson hadn’t visited home, a small town in Arkansas, since he ran away after breaking the man he loves heart. He ran all the way to Los Angeles, trying to move on. His current boyfriend knows that Thomas has been holding back, but when he intercepts a message from Thomas’ ex-boyfriend’s mother, Alan hatches a plan to get JJ and Thomas back together again. But can it really be that easy to just throw the two of them together again? Lots of obstacles are bound to get in the way with Alan letting Thomas believe that JJ is dead; JJ about to walk down the aisle; and Thomas still together with Alan.

This was a fun read with several twists and turns along the way. There were several instances of miscommunication and paths crossing which can be a bit tiresome, but the end result was fun and explosive. This was a very well-paced read with enough going on to fuel the story forward. Some relationships seemed a bit underdeveloped, but the relationship between JJ and Tommy was easy to relate to and constant, even after being apart for so many years. Blue definitely mixed things up with this setting and the set of characters, and it ended up being an entertaining and engaging read.

The sex between the main characters did not occur until very late in the read, so not a hot and steamy read from the get-go. But when they finally got together, the sex added to their already strong connection. There were also a few sexual encounters with unlikely characters that were very hot, which had me thinking: “that’s so hot; but wait, I don’t want that to happen; but it’s so hot.” Very tame and vanilla, but hot nonetheless.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥♥
Sex Heat: 
Plot: ♥♥♥

Read this book if you’re interested in reading an unrequited love story, come full circle. It’s also a quick read and well-written, you’ll not want to put it down.

Morning Report – Sue Brown

Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 70,540
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

After being in a relationship for over a decade, Luke and Simon are still very much in love and enjoy every minute of the life they’ve created together running their ranch. They had never had to hide who they are even in their small town, until one of their local merchants refused to sell to them. Bewildered with their sudden treatment from long-time friends, Luke reaches out to his mom to find that a new pastor in town has been turning  people against the “sinners.” Luke and Simon face not only the decision to stay and fight or leave, but also the first true test of their relationship. Will their relationship be able to withstand the hatred of their beloved community?

This was a very well-written story with strong characters and a well-developed loving relationship between Luke and Simon. At first it seemed a bit romanticized, but quickly the story unfolded to show a more realistic and somewhat scary tale of influence and persuasion – not to mention the stress external influences have on a relationship. Unlike many m/m reads, this book opens with the love story ten years in process – you don’t get to be there for their meeting, although you do get to hear about it, instead you join them in the struggle. You’ll fall in love with everything that Luke and Simon have to offer – including Luke’s family and some of the very people spewing the hate.

The sex was very hot and a bit surprising! Sex is where the title of the book comes from, so I hope you enjoy that puzzle before you read it. Their sexual relationship is a central part of the story and is very much based on D/s roles. Don’t expect toys or hard-core D/s, but you will definitely see the power struggle and D/s roles played very well. Throughout, there is a lot of sex, but it is also meaningful – you can see how it connects or furthers their relationship each and every time.

Out of four…
Overall Read: ♥♥
Sex Heat: ♥♥
Plot: ♥♥♥♥

This is a great read and I highly recommend it. I can’t think of an audience that wouldn’t enjoy this – there are cowboys after all, there is a great loving relationship, and very hot (although tame for some D/s standards) D/s sex. This is definitely worth a read.