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.

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.

Series: Good to Know and An Earlier Heaven – D.W. Marchwell

Author: D.W. Marchwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 62,135
Published: 2009
Fictionwise: $6.99

Author: D.W. Marchwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 71,875
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $6.99

“Good to Know” begins with Jerry McKenzie, an artist who is known for being a recluse and anti-social, gets a surprising gift on his doorstep – his school-age nephew, William. Jerry has no idea how to raise a child, or even if he wants to keep him, so he grabs on to the first person offering help – David. David is William’s teacher and wants to be sure that William is being taken care of after hearing his story – so he does what every good teacher would do, he swings by Jerry’s house for a home visit and finds Jerry completely out of his element. With the intent to help, not act on their mutual sexual attraction, David teaches Jerry the basics and Jerry falls in love with both of the new men in his life.

In the sequel, “An Earlier Heaven,” the family is revisited one year later – and continues to expand with love. William is still a bit of a loner, but he latches on to his soccer coach Cory, and is insistent that Jerry and David help him out. What ensues is a tale of great loss and heart break for William, but one that he continues to overcome and an unexpected family blossoms.

Each book is a good read as a stand alone, but the sequel even further cements their relationship and love after all of the struggles. In the first book, a romance and strong relationship grow through several obstacles. There is strife and struggle, but their underlying love for each other and William, is what makes you fall in love with the characters. A few times you’ll find yourself presented with information without explanation – only to find the explanation several chapters later (just an editorial miss, try not to be distracted). It was fun reading about a loving family – being able to see a child finally have a loving home, will bring you to tears a few times throughout the series. The books were both well-written with a very easy flow and evolution.

The sex in each book was very different. In the first book, there wasn’t a lot of sex and it was seriously lacking description – more of the “they went to bed and then it happened” type of description. In the second book, it was almost like Marchwell was told to add some spice, as there was a LOT more sex, but it seemed to miss the mark on hotness and excitement. There were a lot of “oh yeah, that’s hot” descriptions, but the sex was somewhat gratuitous and almost distracting. I found myself skimming these portions, which are usually my favorite parts.

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

This is a good loving romantic story between two men and the home they create for their son. It’s an easy read and great if you’re looking for a tame story or love beyond the bedroom.

A Dance of Love and Jealousy – Roland Graeme

Author: Roland Graeme
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 134,096
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

Nate, a young up-and-coming dancer is continuously working to improve his dancing skills in order to better his capabilities. His idol, famous aging dancer and new choreographer, Romuald, signs on to work with at the dance company where Nate is a soloist. But Nate is conflicted – he was in love with his straight best friend on the dance troop; a known player is after Nate; and he’s unsure if his idol will give him everything he wants in a relationship. Who will Nate end up with?

This is a different story line than many of the m/m books I’ve read recently, and I appreciated the new setting and characters. It also provided a glimpse into the dancing world which was a welcome change. Overall though, this book confused me – it was VERY long and in my opinion, the same story could have been told with 200 less pages. There seemed to be a lot of superfluous information and details that didn’t add any value to the story or move the plot forward. Details such as the description of every dance move, things that they were observing on stage, repeated observations and thoughts, and so on – didn’t prove valuable within the story. It felt like I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what the story was actually going to be about. However, once it was more apparent who the story was really between, Graeme did a good job at creating the sexual tension between the two main characters.

If you’re looking for sex, this probably isn’t the right book for you. You have to wait about 185 pages before any action appears, but expect the sexual tension to be high before and after the encounter. This is more of a “love story,” but not in a traditional sense. There aren’t many grand gestures or emotional insights, but you can feel the passion and love between the two men.

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

If you are a fan of dance or are looking for a behind-the-scenes look into the dance culture, you will really enjoy this book. It’s also great if you are looking for a longer, more detailed story.

In Dreams He Came – Trina Lane

Author: Trina Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 62,948
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

University of California – Berkeley swim team member Gabe, is finishing his last year on the team and is excited to start the next step of his life. But he’s determined to go out at his personal best. He wouldn’t mind settling down a little bit either. Gabe lives so much in his head and his daydreams, that he almost misses a good thing when it’s right in front of him. His idol and former teammate Nick, convinces Gabe to give their relationship a try. What ensues is a blossoming romance amidst demanding swim and school schedules and life away from each other.

This story can best be described as a sweet and predictable love story. The main characters are very young and their character development within the story reflected that – they didn’t have any deep conflicts or issues to work through, they just needed a way to figure out how to be together and make it work. The story was a quick read and entertaining, but don’t expect a lot of twists and turns, or even a lot of emotional turmoil. And it’s good to note that there was A LOT of daydreaming that took place throughout the story. In my opinion, it was quite distracting, as I found that the daydreams didn’t relate/or move the story forward, as much as I was expecting.

The sex was not a main part of the story, and was very tame during the few times that it happened. Two hot athletic swimmers with wet bodies all the time, did not make as much magic between the pages as one would expect, but sex was not a huge part of this story. But your imagination could go wild for what could be the next installment of this story?

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

If you’re looking for an easy romantic m/m read; enjoy some twink action; or have a thing for swimmers, then this is a good starter book for you.

Undercover Sins – Hayley James

Author: Haley James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 89,3216
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

An undercover officer spends three months as a rent boy, just to get close to his biggest enemy – a human trafficker.  He won’t walk away from an assignment, especially one that means so much to him but soon he realizes that he could be in too deep. He enjoyed sex with his target more than he could forgive himself for – was he playing a role, or being played?

A very surprising and fast-paced read with so many unexpected twists and turns. I couldn’t put this down as the relationship between Demetrius (the human trafficker), Ty/Gabriel (the undercover cop) and Lee (the bodyguard) evolved throughout. Each character had substantial weight and depth, and I found myself being sympathetic with the bad guy, more than I would have thought possible. The story and twists kept me on the edge of my seat and were unexpected – usually you can feel something coming, but not once did I know what would come next. I read this in one day, it was a real page-turner.

The sex was hot, dirty and plentiful, although not gratuitous. There were so many dimensions to their sexual interactions that it greatly deepened their connection with each other, and also furthered the story significantly. This is a good read for experienced m/m readers or those looking for a quick-paced story with a lot of hot sex – be forewarned, this is not a typical love story and the sex is reflective of that.

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

Almost a perfect score, this is a fantastic read! The only caution here, is to be prepared to a little in love with a criminal – but don’t worry, you won’t hate yourself for it in the end! Be sure to read it all the way to end for a few last-minute twists!

Promises and Lies – Rowena Sudbury

 

Author: Rowena Sudbury
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 60,833
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $6.99

An unlikely meeting at a park, Sean- a military historian and buff, meets Jeff – a young man who has led a difficult life, forges a relationship that unexpectedly grows over time. Sean immediately senses the need to take care of Jeff – an urge he’s never felt before. As they become friends, both can’t deny their feelings, but will Sean be able to navigate through the landmines in Jeff’s past? And will Jeff ever be able to fulfill Sean’s desires?

This story revolves around a perceived imbalance in knowledge, power and “smarts.” It’s a bit difficult to read at times, as you end up either feeling sorry for Jeff for his past; questioning Sean’s motive; and wanting to be sure that they are on equal ground. Unfortunately, the relationship feels unequal throughout, which is never my favorite type of read. However, this is an enjoyable read, with a few bumps and twists that add some flavor and keep you hooked. There are also a few subplots – one of which should have been turned into its own book in my opinion, and some that don’t seem to tie-up in the end.

There is hardly any sex in this book, but it is a romance read. Instead, this is focused on one person overcoming personal and mental issues while the other person finally meets his match in the most unexpected person.

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

This book is for those with a soft spot for the underdog! It’s also a great slow romance, which takes time to build, bloom and grow. If you like the development of a relationship, this is the read for you.

Dress Up – Joel Skelton

Author: Joel Skelton
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 88,212
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $6.99

The broadway producer and director team of Murphy and Wyatt finally get their big break – bringing their popular musical Dress Up to the movies. But before production can start, Wyatt needs a long-overdue break to recharge and refocus his energy and creativity. His best friend and former lover Murphy, sends Wyatt on a relaxation getaway at his private house in Maine. And to ensure that Wyatt relaxes and enjoys his time, Murphy sends his assistant Ryan to keep an eye on him. Ryan and Wyatt have an immediate connection, but Ryan does not reveal his true self to Wyatt – can their relationship survive his deception?

This story was set in several locations – New York, Los Angeles and Maine, which added variety and intrigue on its own. The lies told throughout the story, were a bit confusing at first – I had to flip back several pages after the first one was told, as I wasn’t really sure what was going on. After the initial confusion, it was very easy to follow the story (and the deception). While a fun read and a great concept and topic, I felt like the lies went on entirely too long. There were several points in which Ryan could have revealed his truth, but instead the lies dragged throughout – seeming as though they were almost forced in, to make the story longer, instead of spending time on reconciliation (which occurred at break-neck speed).

The writing was easy to read and enjoyable, and the characters were fun and relatable, although I think there was a depth missing from the plot and characters. There seemed to be several story lines that were arbitrary or rushed, and then others that was out of proportion to the story. There is hardly any sex in this one – it’s mostly glossed over, so this is not a “hot” read if that’s what you are looking for. I’d categorize it more as a m/m take on “chick lit” or comic romance, more than anything else.

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

This is a great read for someone who wants to read a m/m romance story with very tame “action.” It is an easy and quick read, and a great new and fresh setting/premise, particularly for people who read a lot of m/m stories.

 

Special Delivery – Heidi Cullinan

Special Delivery

Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Word Count: 106,986
Published: 2010
Fictionwise: $5.94

A trucker meets a very young and innocent, dare I say “perfect” submissive, during one of his cross-country trips in Iowa. The young boy, Sam, has experienced several recent setbacks and continues to try and make it in an un-gay friendly environment. When he meets Mitch by chance, he finally steps out of his comfort zone and starts living his own life – on his terms.

This story is well-written with great character development. You feel what Sam and Mitch feel, which is great, as the story is told from both points of view. You get inside their heads and want to yell at them when they make wrong choices, laugh with them at an inside joke, but most of all, you feel involved with their relationship.

There is SEX in this book… lots of it. Lots of detailed M/M sex, experimentation, Dominance/submission, and more. At some points, the sex dominants (no pun intended!) the story line, but just when you think you want to skip a few pages or put it down for a break, the plot picks back up.

Overall, this book is a good read – it takes place in a “new” environment than most books – on the road; is focused on the relationship between two regular guys, and takes you along the journey of Sam coming into his own person.

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

Read this if you are looking for a longer story to get involved with (it’s a series too!), a different/unique setting, a coming of age novel of sorts, or just plain sex – lots of it, lots of ways. Can you say voyeurism too?

Other authors/books to try (and why you’ll like them):

If you  liked the first, the second brings back Sam and Mitch, and a new story forms. It’s a very different read, but another unique setting with the same characteristics that you’ll find in this one.

“Slow Bloom” is another long read, and the character development is very exciting to follow. There is sex, lots of hot sex in this, but also a great plot that you can dig into.