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.

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!).

Dear M/M Authors…

I had to take a vacation from your books… I absolutely LOVE reading your creations and respect you more than I can put into words – your courage and ability to create tales and deliver them so I can be entertained, enriched, enlightened; is something to aspire to. BUT… I had to take a vacation. At first it was because I ran out of books and had already exceeded my monthly eBook allowance. But really, it was more than that. I have some gripes and I just couldn’t read another book – they all seemed to be….

  • Please, please, please don’t treat your readers like morons. We are smart and enlightened people. We READ. You do not need to repeat a zillion times (or really, repeat AT ALL), details in the story. If I read it earlier in the book, I remember it. Perhaps say it again if it’s been awhile, but I do not need you to tell me someone’s profession/age difference/insecurity/family relation/main plot point/tension or whatever, every single page. Especially if it’s NOT IMPORTANT to the overall book. I am tired of being treated as a moron.
  • You don’t need to get overly creative about naming, well, the penis. If I read one more: “log; hunk of meat; poker; log of love; sausage;” and so on, I may just scream. Really? Nothing kills the mood quicker, honestly.
  • Integrating characters or plots that clearly were edited out… but not fully. Lately, things seem to not add up, a lot. Like an entire plot was taken out because it was not relevant – and then, you have a random page or chapter with that thread. Please review what your editor does – this is very difficult to read and still understand what the heck is going on.
  • Your characters, should well, be characters. I know that sex plays a major role in some, ok most, of your stories (and I thank you for that), but more and more I’m finding that characters break character to further the plot or get a random point across. For me, nothing makes me put down the book faster – I fall in love with your characters, but if they are just a jumble of undeveloped actions, I could care less about his plight, development, or where your plot is going.
  • Taking the “easy way out” – I have seen so so so many “short stories” that had enough meat and bones within the characters and plot, to be actual, well, novels. WRITE THE LONGER BOOK. I don’t want you to neatly tie up the story in five pages so you can be done with it. Take care with your endings the same way you did with the previous 70 pages. It is so upsetting to be completely engaged and then have a “and then x, y and z fell into place and they lived HEA.”

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming (and I’m back to reading you with a vengeance).

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.

 

Man of His Dreams – John Jockel

Author: John Jockel
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Word Count: 49,708
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $6.99

This book revolves around a childhood crush on a movie star that follows Zack through adulthood. Here’s the thing though… while you wait for the movie star and Zack to finally meet each other (think near the end of the book), there is a lot of random side plots and interactions. Literally, random. You are taken on a trip around the world where Zack appears to dive off of the virginity wagon with guns blazing, having random and illicit sexual encounters in each city on his summer trek. All without meaning, all without any depth or purpose.

The sex in this story is a bit difficult to classify – it was SO surface-level and most likely improbable, that any potential hotness from the interaction, was sucked out of it. Each encounter was another “fetish” or cliche starting with the back-room of a gay porn movie theater, an older teacher and college student, cheating with a fellow co-ed, sex club orgy… and so on. When the main plot finally comes to light, the sex is forgettable at best and unfortunately lacks passion – particularly the passion that the reader was led to believe from a lifetime of hero worship. I think this plot IDEA has a lot of potential for a fun read in a fantasy brought to life situation, but this read missed the mark.

And if all of that hasn’t convinced you to skip this one, how about several plot lines/characters that have absolutely no resolution or purpose in the story? It seemed at times that this was a first draft – plot lines that were edited out of the final story arc, but the chapters/characters were forgotten about and left in, leaving for a bumbling read.

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

Not recommended for anyone, really. Skip it…

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.

 

Above the Dungeon – SM Johnson

Author: SM Johnson
Publisher: Torquere Press
Page Count (pdf): 309
Published: 2011?
Rainbow eBooks: $5.99

When Date, a straight preppy guy runs away from his family and commitments, he goes to his gay cousin to help him explore a new path. Little did he know that included BDSM, bar tending at a gay bar and exploring his own sexuality.

When this book started, it seemed destined that the powerful Dom and owner of the bar and dungeon, was going to be the love interest for Dare – but the story doesn’t really stop there. I think that was where this book lost me, to be honest. There was some hot sex and BDSM exploration, but the undefined relationships were a bit difficult to connect with. Now don’t get me wrong, the sex was a ton of fun to read – even if it seemed at times, a bit disjointed from the overall story; the BDSM play was consistent throughout, which was also a nice change of pace.

Despite all of the available avenues for this story to take, it remained very surface level – even left me wondering how the relationships were left at the end. This is a definite hot read for people who enjoy reading about multiple partners and undefined relationships, or just want some steaming D/s scenes.

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

I would recommend this for experienced readers, and those just looking for sex, sex and sex, particularly those who are looking for steamy D/s scenes – as the consistency of each character’s role was the strength throughout.

Heart Thief – Claire Thompson

Author: Claire Thompson
Publisher: Romance Unbound Publishing
Page Count (ePub): 144
Published: 2011
Rainbow eBooks: $4.76

The heat started right from the start and was very intriguing. A very powerful, wealthy and aggressive Dom going after a hot security guard, a cowboy to boot! As they explored their relationship, their interactions started off sizzling, until their dynamic shifted. Or rather, Luke (the cowboy) finally realizes that their dynamic is not based on love, but something else.

The heat between Griffin and Luke was immediate and intense – I couldn’t put the book down. However, when things shifted for Luke, it was a bit hard to continue reading. The whole “safe, sane and consensual” mantra was, well… missing. I tend to fight it hard to relate as soon as that boundary is crossed. I struggled to continue with the story as it was not clear where it was going. But I kept on, and it was definitely worth it! When Luke figures out what he is really looking for and what a D/s relationship should be about, the results were very enticing.

For the most part, the sex was hot with a good dose of D/s – including some bondage and the somewhat less explored/written about, needle play (I could have done without that, but it was done tastefully). There was a lot of sex, so probably not for someone who likes their plots interrupted or furthered by sexual interactions, and not for the new D/s or m/m reader – there were key missing elements from their D/s play mainly the “safe, sane and consensual” part, along with missing safe words and trust.

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

I’d recommend this book to those who love a good cowboy story in Texas; hot sex with a new-age feel to a D/s relationship; and most importantly, someone who is committed to reading through the rough parts to get to the goodies awaiting the other side!

Khyber Run – Amber Green

Author: Amber Green
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Word Count: 62,023
Published: 2011
Fictionwise: $5.94

The name of this book intrigued me – mostly because I had no idea what it meant. This story is set in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the middle of the current war. The beginning was a bit confusing as you are unsure not only where the character is, but also what all of the nicknames mean – both are settled somewhat, but I found that the confusion of location was constant throughout. I had to refer back a few pages every now and then to confirm where they were.

This was an intense read, but not because of the sex or interaction between the apparent love interest. In fact, there was no sex until page 105 (other than a random quickie around page 60 or so) – consider yourself forewarned. This is a war story, plain and simple. The main character is searching to find his place in the war as a Pakistani in the U.S. military – on a mission to avenge his fallen brother. The sex was rough and about circumstance, not feeling, lust or love – and it was rough, although it only occurred twice (maybe three times) during the entire book. I wish that there was more of a connection or character development here, as I usually love military men stories.

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

Read this book if you are interested in learning about a different perspective of the war and enjoy reading about rough, meaningless sex – although you will be waiting awhile for it to happen!

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.