A Cat Named Hercules – KC Kendricks

Author: KC Kendricks
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Word Count: 29,951
Published: 2012

This had the word CAT in the title, which meant I obviously had to read it. From the sexy cover, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, other than some serious hotness and a little kitty thrown in. What I got was a bit different – this is a story of two men coming together because of a cat. New to town, the main character goes with his friend to a charity event and finds a stray kitten calling to him – concerned about the kitten’s well-being, the local vet arrives and the two fall in love with each other.

This main plot of this story revolves around one man finally being true to himself and his courage to finally live as the gay man he always knew himself to be. Through a few misunderstandings, they work everything out and have the kitten to thank for everything.

The sex was very tame and very vanilla – and no, there was no animals involved. 😉 It was a fun and easy read, without the typical angst of coming out stories. The warnings read voyeurism and sex in public places – but I wouldn’t label either incident as such, so if you’re into that, this isn’t the book for you. Overall, a decent love story between one confused man and one patient man, who bond over their cat.

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

This is a great book for a quick lazy afternoon read, or someone who is looking to venture into m/m without any of the “scary” parts.

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Getting Off the Ground & Infinity Pools – L.A. Witt

Getting Off the Ground
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Number of Words: 20,803
Published: 2011


Infinity Pools
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Number of Words: 40,767
Published: 2011

 

I was SO disappointed in the first part of this “series” – “Getting Off the Ground.” It was a super-short story where two people meet while waiting to catch a flight to Hawaii. They instantly hit it off, one character, Elliot, was left at the alter by his fiance the night before and was trying to keep it together and orderly, by making lists. A nearby passenger Derek overhears Elliot’s predicament and decides to start chatting him up. This was a meeting of opposites attract, they had an intense connection, and then it ended 52 pages into the story. I was ANNOYED. It took me awhile to get into the concept and story, which is unusual for me and a Witt story, but I stuck it out and wanted to find out what happened next. As soon as I saw “Infinity Pools” available, I was hoping that it would be better (and longer) than the first one and tell me what happened – and it finally told me what came next! However, these two books such have been published together as one…

The story was a bit basic and very surface level as in none of the bigger issues they were dealing with, were ever really dealt with. The story was a vacation fantasy story with two unlikely men coming together and essentially spending two weeks having sex and falling for each other. Most of the story was carried by the sex which was hot, but got a little boring at times. I found myself drifting and then trying to figure out who was doing who and what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, there was some serious sizzle at times, but about half of the sex scenes could have been taken out of the book and it wouldn’t have been missed.

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

This is a great read for someone who is looking for sex, and lots of it. These are two “normal” guys that hook up, and hook up, and hook up – and fall in love through spending time together over two weeks in paradise. It is an easy and engaging read that you don’t want to put down until you get to the end, but it does stay out of some of the areas that would have created deep and interesting characters.

 

Dawn in the Orchard – Cooper West

Author: Cooper West
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Length (ePub): 166
Published: 2011

This was my first foray into reading Cooper West and I wasn’t disappointed. I was bit unsure how the story was going to work out, which was a nice change of pace – there was sufficient back-story at the beginning, and the empathy and connection with the main character, happened immediately. One musician with severe stage fright inherits a home in the back country in North Carolina. He arrives with nothing to his name and without any type of future planned. While he settles into his new place, he finds his passion perhaps for the first time, and takes a chance with his music and love. His new found interest (Chuck), is so in the closet, he can’t even see a way out – can they both get over their fears and real roadblocks, to create music and a relationship together…?

This was a nice story and a very easy read; there were a few times during the book that I stopped to scratch my head, but they were mainly about the life Chuck lead before Gary came to town (ex-wife, kids, etc). These were not main themes of the book until the end, so don’t worry if you are not a fan of that theme. It also seemed to have a lot of work-up for an instant change – something that I doubt would occur in real life. Regardless, it was well-written with well-developed characters and an unique story line.

The sex was good, but not sizzling. I did like how it happened at appropriate times and wasn’t the only thing carrying the story. There was tension, feeling, passion, and more between these two which was payed out well throughout the story – only one or two times where I started wondering during a sex scene. No D/s play at all – very vanilla.

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

This is a great book for anyone looking for a strong story line and great characters. Vanilla sex and is a good starter m/m read – and even interesting for those of us who read it a ton!

By the Numbers – Chris Owen & Tory Temple

(Please excuse the missing book cover and Fictionwise info – their site is down)

Author: Chris Owen and Tory Temple
Publisher:  Torquere Press
Page Length (ePub): 139
Published: 2011

I was glad to see this finally published, as I enjoyed the first firefighter story – and I hadn’t really connected the dots until the main character referenced his boss Chance, and then it all came back to me. Anyway, this was a very quick read and had potential to be a great story, but it continually fell short. The premise of this story is a fireman rescues a pregnant dog from a burning apartment complex, the grateful dog owner seeks out his hero to thank him, ends up befriending him, and then they move in together before, start messing around, and then “overcome” struggles with the fireman’s ex-wife. By the end, there is SO MUCH about the ex-wife that isn’t relevant to their story, that I’m not really sure what the driving force was. This joint writing effort was disjointed throughout, and it seemed like the authors weren’t able to get on the same page to tell this story.

One of the most noticeable flaws, was that he characters seemed to change their core personalities as the book unfolded. For instance, one of the main characters Deuce, opened the story and came across as socially inept, not quick witted, and a bit “dorky.” All of which could have been interesting, but as you read, he became more dominant, had a ton of work friends, was able to socialize fine, and even brazen. The characters were quite surface-level to begin with, so the shifting in personalities broke my connection with their story over and over again. It was also quite far-fetched from reality, but set-up as to be “real life,” which broke down another connection. And fair warning, there is a random daughter thrown in as part and parcel of the ex-wife.

The sex was hot at the beginning, but as soon as the story/characters started falling apart, I found myself wandering through the love scenes. Vanilla with a few over/under tones of Dominance/submission, and there was a varied way in delivering the sex – sometimes the interaction lasted several pages, other times it was briefly mentioned.

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

A middle-of-the-road m/m read. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a hot sexy fireman, enjoys quick/surface level fun, or is just trying to dip their toes into the m/m action. It is an easy read with nothing offensively wrong with it, just not as tied together for an experienced m/m reader and fan.

Bound by Law – SE Jakes

Author: SE Jakes
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Word Count: 63,521
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.50

I have been waiting for this one to come out! As we know, I LOVED Bound by Honor, the first book in this loose series – in case you forgot, I gave it a perfect score. That being said, this one had a lot to live up to… and I wasn’t disappointed!

This story focuses on the other two members of a foster situation – Law and Styx. They were introduced in the first book and I was curious if they’d ever find their way back together. Now I’m not really giving anything away here, as you can see from the cover artwork, but this is a menage story – and no one was more surprised about that, than me (I tend not to look at covers, the whole saying and such). Anyway, Law and Styx do find themselves back in the same room together, except Law has his new boyfriend with him – Paulo. Let’s just saw that amid gunfire and a manhunt or two, sparks fly.

I’d like to be very clear here – this book was nothing like the first one, which makes it even better in my opinion! This relationship was one of trust, struggle, acceptance, and forgiveness, but without any D/s interaction. Power and control was constantly changing hands, but the great thing was, each character was so well-developed, that you never lost sight of who was saying or doing what. The sex was super hot and intense – ten years apart will do that, but more than that, it was passionate and their connection was evident throughout. It was HOT-HOT-HOT, somewhat “tame” in experiences/positions/locations (if you’re able to overlook the uniqueness of a threesome), but not at all boring. There was a constant give and take, which created a sense of vulnerability in each character at various times. And who doesn’t love hot, sexy, fighting, strong men showing a little vulnerability during crazy hot sex?!

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

Not quite another perfect score, but definitely close. I would recommend this to everyone – it’s a stand alone book, or a great extension if you read the first one. It is super sexy, hot, great sex, but even better characters. I just hope that Jakes has another one in the works, apparently I’m a huge fan!

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Renovations 1-3 – Anah Crow & Dianne Fox

Authors: Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Publisher: Torquere Press
Word Count: 46,400
Published: 2011 (compilation)
Fictionwise: $4.99

I know I’m a bit late to this book, but I couldn’t fathom buying each short story, which was barely a few chapters, prior to the compilations being released. That being said, the stories didn’t seem as though they could stand alone, but perhaps that wasn’t the point.

I was excited when I started this story, as I thought the main characters had a lot of promise. There seemed to be reasonable yet meaty personal and familial struggles on both sides and a “realistic” reason bringing the two of them together. And suddenly, I was let down. While these characters and the plot could have been expanded upon and made into a great story, it just fell flat. There was hardly any connection between them once they had sex. The sex and their relationship was not at all related to their struggles – they didn’t really speak to each other, the action was never really furthered… all of that with lackluster sex thrown in! I kept reading on thinking that there had to be some grand redeeming point somewhere – why let these characters go to waste?! But I never found it – I even started the next compilation (Renovations 4-6) to see if things moved along there – more to come on that later. Sadly, it just fizzled (or does it need to start to fizzle?).

The sex was hot for about the first encounter – although it was not very loving or passionate throughout. It seemed almost technical and there were several times that I got bored reading it. I’m not sure if the boredom came from too much sex written in, or perhaps their roles and personalities tended to get mixed up. Either way, it was definitely sex for sex’s sake in this one (and vanilla sex at that).

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

I am struggling with giving this a one overall since I’ve read much worse, I just don’t feel it was worth the time I invested, especially as it had so much promise! I would perhaps recommend this for a newbie who is trying to get a feel for reading about m/m sex, without caring much about the characters, plot, or investment into the story – everyone else will be a bit bored and disappointed.

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Series: Torched and Blow Torch – Chloe Stowe

4799506Author: Chloe Stowe
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Word Count: 48,611
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

 

2278867Author: Chloe Stowe
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Word Count: 46,530
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

 

 

I actually made a mistake when starting this series, as I bought them both at the same time – I read the prologue for “Blow Torch” by accident. And I have to say, it is an accident that I would recommend all readers to do! It provided me with a great background on the characters and helped me understand everything that unfolds in “Torched” even more. So that’s my tip to the beginning of this Hellsgate series.

That aside, I absolutely loved these two books. They were admittedly short reads and could have unfolded in one book, but I definitely wanted to keep on reading. The characters felt so real even though they were such opposites. One of the main characters is a war veteran and hero (Bronze Star winner) who experiences difficulty in life post-war. He meets, in a rather dramatic way, his love interest who is a very successful real estate mogul from New York. Opposites attract in this one, and they definitely end up working well together through the many challenges life and others, throw their way.

The sex in these books is hot – not graphic or thorough, but hot because of their passion for each other. From their first scene together, it is clear that they have a deep connection pulling them towards each other after years of not letting others in. Sex was part of this book, but definitely not the driving force.

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

I would recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a passionate romance, particularly with imperfect partners in unlikely situations. You will fall in love with both characters and root for them in the most unlikely circumstances, not to mention enjoy reading their passion increase as the story unfolds. Great, fun and easy read with a lot of emotion throughout.

Take the Lead – Johnny Diaz

Author: Johnny Diaz
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 72,439
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

This book was a bit frustrating – although I did read it all the way through. It is NOT, I repeat, NOT, a romance, erotica, m/m read of any sort. Instead, you waste around 160 pages on a superficial “crush” – and that’s extending the description, interplay and passion between the characters, until the real partner is introduced. And even then, it’s SO surface level and rushed, that’s it not worth all of the work to get you there. In addition, the main plot/focus of this book is around Parkinson’s disease. Definitely a noteworthy cause to bring more attention to, it just didn’t fit in well, if at all, into the story that was trying to be told.

The book was an easy read and the words unfolded nicely. I also liked the approach Diaz took to creating his characters – dare I say very reflective of his own experiences? The main lead was Cuban, and living in Boston, both being a refreshing take on some of the recent stories I read. However, the book had some serious identity issues – it felt as though Diaz was trying to tackle two very different topics, and neither shined through.

The sex in this book was non-existent, so I don’t have a lot to expound on there. The relationships were just too shallow and not well-developed, to provide a review on the sizzle.

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

It wasn’t awful, but I do have a hard time recommending this to anyone looking to read in the m/m, erotica genre. It is grossly mus-categorized and is a bit all over the place. I do think that it would be a quick, fun read for anyone who is touched immediately by Parkinson’s disease.

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Plus Ones – Hank Edwards

Author: Hank Edwards
Publisher: Loose-Id
Word Count: 65,168
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

I struggled through this book – I was expecting it to be a great fun read based on the description, but it fell quite a bit short. Essentially, the gay marriage law was signed into effect and all of the gay couples that the main characters know decide to get married as quickly as possible that summer, before the law is overturned. So they each attend several of the weddings with different dates (as the plus one). Through many meetings, words unspoken, misunderstandings, and so on, it takes them just about the entire book (perhaps 5 weddings?) to finally realize that they wanted to date each other.

It was trying, really – I would have thoroughly enjoyed this book had it been kept to two or three weddings, but the continued missed opportunities ended up being lame. And half the time I kept thinking that “men do NOT talk like this, nor would this ever happen for so darn long.” There were some funny parts, particularly with the weird habits of some of the dates, and a random sub-plot that added little value – perhaps because it wasn’t fully explored.

The sex that occurred throughout the book, was between the main characters and different people just about each time. It was based purely on the physical and circumstance, and lacked passion and steaminess. The sex was very mild/tame and not at all “graphic” or a play-by-play.

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

Overall, this is a very surface-level read. You don’t get to know any of the characters all that well, they do not have significant voices or in-depth realizations/issues, but it is a fun dating around book. I would recommend this if you’re looking for a lazy, fun read and enjoy lots of different partners (and a good laugh at some of the crazy people in the book!).

Make A Right – Willa Okati

Author: Willa Okati
Publisher: Loose-Id
Word Count: 81,295
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $7.99

I was torn over even purchasing this book, especially when I saw the steep price (thank you for coupons), but being an Okati fan, it was just too hard to pass up. The story begins somewhat abruptly with two former lovers, crossing paths. Their 10-year history together is uncovered slowly throughout the book, but the premise is that they need to join forces to attend their friends (from their foster home) wedding. The story line itself – everything from how they met, their relationship, the premise for them coming back together, and the random characters, were a bit far-fetched and felt somewhat arbitrary at times. However, when you’re able to weed through the confusing plot turns and random dialogue and revelations, these characters evoked great emotion and passion throughout – and this fact alone, is why I’ve given it the rating I have.

The personalities between the two main characters were as different as night and day, but each loved the other in his own way, which made it sometimes painful to read (think tears), and other times almost comical. Tuck was, by far, the more relatable character and made this read worth it. I don’t think that any of this would happen in real life, nor do I agree that anyone would give in to someone who hurt them for TEN YEARS, but in this book, it seemed to happen to wrap up the story quickly.

The sex between them, when it happened, was a bit all over the place. The first encounter felt shameful, but after that, while there were regrets, the sex was filled was passion, thus, evoking even more emotion than their encounters evoked. Very vanilla sex, but you could feel their passion and wacky love for each other and it brought them even closer.

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

Overall, I would recommend this book if you’re a Okati fan, or if you’re looking for some strong emotions in your story (and can overlook some random things thrown in). I was impressed by the level of heartfelt connection throughout, but there are definitely some plot issues that would make it difficult for a plot-driven reader to overlook.