logo
Currently Browsing: m/m romance
Oct
21

Review + Blog Tour: Bluewater Blues by G.B. Gordon

Review + Blog Tour: Bluewater Blues by G.B. Gordon Bluewater Blues Author: G.B. Gordon Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jack Daley is a man with secrets. After living on the run for years with his sister, Margaret, they’ve finally found a place to call their own in Bluewater Bay. But, hiding out is lonely business, and Jack just can’t help feeling drawn to the tall, gorgeous stranger who seems more familiar than he should. Though her autism is both a complication and a gift, Jack must learn to accept that Margaret is plenty capable when it comes to her own life, and that, with a little trust and faith, they both find happiness in the refuge that has become a real home. Having learned to cope remarkably well with his autism over the years, Mark Keao keeps the details of his life, and his diagnoses, to himself. He’s fantastic at his job, is involved in activities that make him happy, and isn’t remotely interested in anyone’s pity. Still, pride is a complicated thing, especially on the set of a demanding TV show like Wolf’s Landing. It doesn’t help that the one man who might finally be able to understand and care about him, is keeping things from him. But, Mark’s no quitter, and he’s not about to let Jack go without a fight. Without question, autism plays a tremendous role in Bluewater Blues, easily rivaling, if not surpassing, the romance that develops between the two main characters. Margaret and Mark represent very different manifestations of the spectrum, yet both are independent and manage their lives well. I believe the author approached the subject thoughtfully, and it seemed that a great deal of consideration was given with regard to research and dignity during the writing process. It was also nice to see Mark and Jack engage in, and eventually maintain, a successful and intimate relationship with such a sense of normalcy, as it should be. Whatever difficulties they did have were the result of Jack and Margaret’s past—and Jack’s habitual protectiveness—rather than Mark’s autism and SPD. Many of the things that could have been used as a means of dividing them actually serve to make them complimentary instead. In fact, Jack’s obligation to exercise that much discipline and responsibility for so long makes his handing control over to Mark seem like an enjoyably viable, yet mutually beneficial, solution. Although it’s not always an effective tactic, the author’s use of dual POV’s works fairly well in Bluewater...
Read More
Oct
10

Blog Tour + Review: Pansies by Alexis Hall

Blog Tour + Review: Pansies by Alexis Hall Pansies Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: As has been the case with every story I’ve read by Alexis Hall, I find myself unable to write this review without a great deal of regard and admiration for both story and author. Mr. Hall is as thorough in Pansies as ever, writing in layers that are at once complex, philosophical, and literary, yet which are presented through the reassuring familiarity of sensation, sound, and color. I don’t think that there is a single, exclusionary truth within the narrative, but, rather, a unique kind of acceptance that is difficult to explain. I don’t believe it’s exactly right to say that Pansies is the story of two people with a shared past, because it is so disparate in the experience of the main characters. The setting is the same, as are many of the key players, but the summation of its pieces has wildly different effects on Fen and Alfie. What I took from their respective histories is that the past is never a singular, weightless construct. It is as fractured as the lens of a kaleidoscope, each contributor’s perspective unique to every other. And as long as a single person’s shoulders are bowed under the weight of it, all are indefinitely accountable. Perspective, in general, is another important component of the story, and how the same quantity of time can be experienced in entirely different ways by two (or more) people. Fen and Alfie both left South Shields, but there’s a significant distinction between “having to” and “wanting to.” Change is presented similarly, and might be viewed as the crumbling of foundations vs. the awareness of possibility. One of my favorite things about Pansies is the enticement of the senses that seems to be present in all of Mr. Hall’s books. The smell of flowers and sex. The taste of wine and the salt spray of the ocean. A warmth strong enough to touch the chill that has nothing to do with the weather. And there are constant bursts of color—the red-black of butterfly wings, purple silk, and sea glass green—flung with all the moments they attend against grey skies. These are magical stories. While Pansies does have its share of serious themes coursing through it, it is also fairly packed with humor—side-splitting, tears-streaming, cackling-out-loud humor. Alfie is a mess. There’s not much about him that isn’t a mess, and occasionally that manifests in truly bizarre...
Read More
Oct
3

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Can’t Hide From Me Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a member of a highly-skilled ATF team, Charles Hunter is a clever, adept agent who takes his profession seriously. Having recently broken off an engagement, the last thing he needs is to reconnect with another ex-lover during an emergency extraction from the latter’s current undercover assignment. Still hurting and bitter, Charles isn’t prepared for all the ways his life spins out of control when a stalker complicates the situation, and all the secrets he’s tried to hide come crashing down on him. Ángel Medina has been living a lie for two years. When he was given the chance to go undercover and bring down one of the most notorious cartels on the ATF’s hit list, he had to take it. Letting go of the man he loved to do it wasn’t easy, but he wasn’t willing to live his life as someone’s “dirty little secret,” either. But, when his only contact to the real world goes missing, and an extraction is his only hope of survival, his past and present collide in ways he could never have expected. On initial examination, Can’t Hide from Me, by Cordelia Kingsbridge, had a lot going for it: a diverse cast of characters, strong personalities, a range of sexual identities, suspense, as well as a path to redemption and second chances. Yet, as I got further into the narrative, I found that there were a few issues that I was never able to accept or ignore enough to become truly engaged with the story. One of my biggest issues is that I thought there was too much sex for the story trying to support it. It’s not the actual quantity of sex scenes that bothered me exactly, it’s just that, due to the characters’ circumstances, and the suspenseful intent of the narrative, a majority of these encounters seem more gratuitous than purposeful. Given the nature of Ángel’s most recent undercover operation, as well as the addition of a stalker who’s clearly much closer than should have been possible with an elite ATF team, a lot of the sex in Can’t Hide from Me seems emotionally and mentally reckless, at best. I try to ignore the “heat ratings” of a story, however, so others may not have any qualms about the situation. While I usually love suspense and mystery in the stories I get to review, it just...
Read More
Oct
3

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Hi! I’m Cordelia Kingsbridge, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the blog tour for my novel Can’t Hide From Me. Thanks so much for checking it out! About the Book: Charles Hunter’s team is on a mission to extract an unidentified ATF agent from an undercover job gone wrong. All they’ve got to go on is the rendezvous location—until Charles recognizes the ex he hasn’t seen in years. Their “simple rescue mission” is about to get a lot more complicated. For Ángel Medina, adjusting to life after his cartel nightmare is hard enough without confronting memories of a failed relationship. All he wants is a fresh start. But when a violent stalker lashes out from the shadows, Ángel realizes his nightmare is far from over. As the stalker’s obsession escalates and bodies start dropping, Charles and Ángel are thrown together in a desperate search for the culprit. Tempers flare and old passions reignite, drawing them back into the same turbulent relationship that once ended in disaster. But the stalker isn’t letting go—and the next strike might hit straight through the heart. Release Date: October 3, 2016 Publisher: Riptide Publishing Series: Standalone Genre: Suspense, Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ, m/m Format(s): paperback (343 pages), e-book Book Source: NetGalley/Publisher Purchase Info: Riptide Publishing : Amazon About Cordelia Kingsbridge: Cordelia Kingsbridge has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh, but quickly discovered that direct practice in the field was not for her. Having written novels as a hobby throughout graduate school, she decided to turn her focus to writing as a full-time career. Now she explores her fascination with human behavior, motivation, and psychopathology through fiction. Her weaknesses include opposites-attract pairings and snarky banter. Away from her desk, Cordelia is a fitness fanatic, and can be found strength training, cycling, and practicing Krav Maga. She lives in South Florida but spends most of her time indoors with the air conditioning on full blast! Connect with Cordelia: Email:  cordeliakingsbridge@gmail.com Tumblr: http://ckingsbridge.tumblr.com Giveaway To celebrate the release of Can’t Hide From Me, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 8, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher. Open to participants who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local...
Read More
Sep
20

Review + Excerpt: Strung Up by Lorelei James

Review + Excerpt: Strung Up by Lorelei James Strung Up Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A-/B+ What I’m Talking About: Creston “Cres”, the youngest Grant brother, and until recently, a closeted gay rancher, is still coping with the sudden death of the love of his life over two years ago. In an effort to get him out of his funk, Cres’s brothers and sisters-in-law take him out to a big party where he runs into Breck Christianson, a sexy hookup from Cres’s past. Breck has spent the last two years of his life riding a crushing wave that ended his successful career and left him with few friends. Seeing Cres Grant serves to remind him of the “one that got away,” yet gives him hope for the future. I have to admit, the opening prologue of Strung Up both surprised and crushed me. I am not one to read book blurbs before I dive into a story, so it came as quite a shock that Cres’s hero is Breck, and not someone else. For those who’ve read the previous two 1,001 Dark Nights/Blacktop Cowboys tales, I think the prologue will hit you equally as hard. However difficult and shocking the opener was, it effectively drew me into this wonderful story and created a deeply emotional connection to Cres. I immediately grew to care about him and his future. Cres and Breck made for a wonderful pair. Right from their initial encounter, the couple shared an intense sexual attraction, something stemming from their brief history and made even stronger over time. I liked how the pair opened up to each other about the pain in his past, and how it impacted his life in the now. Yet no matter how honest they were with one another, each continued to hide his true feelings towards the other. This duality of honesty created delicious tension and drew out the romance just until the point where it could have become tedious. Ms. James created a perfect match with these two pained souls. Overall, Strung Up is a sexy love story about second chances. I liked the emotional intensity of the tale. It never felt rushed because the characters have been around and have an established backstory. The couple had electric chemistry both in and out of the bedroom, adding to the heightened emotional content. My Rating: A-/B+ Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Rancher Creston Grant retreats from the world after he loses the love of his life… Can his...
Read More
Sep
7

Blog Tour + Review: Shatterproof by Xen Sanders

Blog Tour + Review: Shatterproof by Xen Sanders Shatterproof Author: Xen Sanders Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Unique and evocative, I found Shatterproof to be both difficult in many ways, yet important, as well. Rich with imagery—from the brushstrokes of Grey Jean-Marceline’s paintings and water drops forming on Saint’s hands, to descriptions of a cold so deep I felt it through my own skin—it is a beautiful, yet precariously balanced examination of one man’s struggle with depression. Immediately in favor of the story as a whole is the thoughtful forward by the author which gives forthright caution with regard to the various trigger warnings present in the narrative. These should absolutely be heeded, but I still felt that Shatterproof is a wonderful story. Though dark in theme and setting throughout most of the story, Shatterproof is also filled with color, both symbolic and literal. The author expertly paints each chapter with many incarnations of that darkness and their counterparts—black canvas and vibrant oils, the night sky split by flashing lights, and the “ebonwood and silver and gold” of Grey himself. And still, even the varying hues of the unspoken stories that crowd every surface in Saint’s room aren’t enough to “fix” what’s really troubling Grey. A big, fascinating part of Shatterproof has to do with Grey’s love of his heritage and his faith. Despite my own ignorance of Catholic vodou, the beauty of Grey’s reverence was clear throughout the narrative, and I was grateful for the author’s often lyrical explanations of the loa, particularly as they seem to come to life on Grey’s canvasses. Unlike the erroneous depictions used in most “Hollywood” versions of the religion, these spirits are earthy and approachable, and have far more in common with those who would seek their aid than might be expected. Unlike a lot of multitasking novels I’ve read in the past, Shatterproof manages to bring together different matters of consequence without losing the impact of any single one of them. A blend of religious symbolism, Celtic mythology, and the brutally specific nature of depression, among a few other things, it is also an unflinching view of the need to address the severe lack of support for those who live with depression every day, particularly among underrepresented groups. Though dark, Shatterproof isn’t without its moments of hope and love, while reinforcing the belief that learning self-acceptance just might be the most important step of all. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Saint’s afraid...
Read More
Sep
5

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Review: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Fast Connection Author: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Unwilling to remain stagnant like the majority of his peers, and lacking other options, Dominic Costigan joined the Army straight out of high school, any “growing up” he had to do being done with a gun in his hands on the front lines of war. Now that he’s back, he’s quickly discovering that the home he knew, and most of those in it, is more foreign and ill-fitting than ever. Lonely and eager to explore his newfound sexual interest in men, he decides that a no-strings, internet-spawned hookup would be a fine place to start over again—especially if it means protecting his already battle-worn heart. Luke Rawlings is done with relationships. Out of the two he’s had that mattered, one ended with two amazing kids and an incredible ex-wife, while the other resulted in his being discharged from the Army and his former boyfriend briefly kidnapping his children. All he wants, or needs, now is to make sure his landscaping business stays profitable, to take care of his teenagers, and keep his sexual engagements as impersonal as possible. Lucky for him, Grindr was made for exactly that. After eagerly anticipating the release of Fast Connection, the second story in the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, I was both pleased and unsurprised to find that it was as fun and thoughtfully written as I imagined it would be. Whereas Strong Signal, the first in the series, didn’t explore the mingling of the virtual world with the “real” one until later in the narrative, Fast Connection takes place amid the interchange of one with the other throughout, handily reaffirming the validity of online relationships along the way. In a testament to the authors’ writing abilities, Dominic transformed from an abrasive, insecure bully with a serious control problem into a thoughtful, insecure survivor who wants a better future for himself and his family. In Fast Connection, that earlier façade is given a degree of substance I hadn’t expected, and appreciated all the more for it. Dominic doesn’t make excuses, which I was glad to see, instead waving his mistakes ahead of him, almost as a warning, lest anyone see too much potential in him. Rather than wallowing, he seemed to want to hope very badly, but couldn’t quite find his way there on his own. Luke, as it happens, is the perfect person...
Read More
Aug
31

Review + Blog Tour: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

Review + Blog Tour: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall Looking for Group Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Beginning with what is essentially a “job listing” in a fictional MMO, Looking for Group is one of the most unique and fun stories about falling in love that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a very long time. Told exclusively from Drew’s perspective, it’s a noteworthy lesson, not only about accepting others for who they are, but being honest with ourselves, as well. There’s actually much more to it than that, but it’s better to just read it firsthand. One of the most fascinating things about Looking for Group is what felt like a fairly thorough immersion of the reader in the gameplay of the fictional MMO, Heroes of Legend. Though Mr. Hall clearly took as many facets of his audience as possible into consideration when writing the game scenes, I was still thankful for the glossary at the end of the story. If you don’t already speak MMO, this should definitely be read first. Aside from being very helpful in following along in HoL, it’s an extremely entertaining feature in its own right, and, in general, I thought it was a nice touch. As he’s the only narrator, we see the world of the story through Drew’s eyes, and there were several moments when I wished with all my heart that I could derail certain trajectories he’d flung himself along before it was too late. But, Mr. Hall is an excellent storyteller, and that would have been too easy. Instead, we’re given the chance to ask ourselves what the term “real” actually means, and hopefully acknowledge that our definition isn’t likely to be the same as anyone else’s. And that’s okay. Despite Drew’s best intentions, there simply isn’t a universally applicable pie chart for “The Equitable and Acceptable Distribution of Self.” As usual, Mr. Hall has created an entire cast of vivid and engaging personalities in Looking for Group, each unique and “alive,” whether secondary or no. Drew and Kit are each completely wonderful, and witnessing them banter with each other was a real pleasure, although it was Kit who really stole my heart. The other characters are no less remarkable, however, and I appreciated the variations in the ways we get to know them (online vs. “in the flesh”). Looking for Group is a fine story with some delightful twists, and I loved every moment I spent grumbling and gesticulating at...
Read More
Jul
6

Review + Giveaway: What Remains by Garrett Leigh

Review + Giveaway: What Remains by Garrett Leigh What Remains Author: Garrett Leigh Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The only thing vibrant, independent Jodi Peters wanted from his rare evening out was to have a little fun, then go back home to his comfortable no-strings life. He never expected the captivating bouncer who tossed a small herd of drunken idiots out of a bar to walk him home. Of course, inviting the man inside certainly hadn’t been on his to-do list for the evening, either, but he wasn’t about to let the strongest attraction he’d ever felt slip away. Recently divorced and newly out, Rupert O’Neil doesn’t exactly have his life in order when he meets the hipster-scruffed, not-entirely-sober web designer outside the bar where he works on the weekends. Fighting fires is everything he wants in a day job, but it isn’t enough to keep a decent roof over his head and support the daughter he adores, especially when his ex-wife is set on making him as miserable as possible. But, as flirtation with a stranger turns into love, his world becomes as close to perfect as he ever could have hoped for—and far too good to last. Although I was only introduced to her writing recently, Ms. Leigh has quickly become a new favorite. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so far, even though each of those stories has broken my heart a little. Which, admittedly, is part of the draw. Not content to have her characters “merely” struggling to find love, they must fight unfavorable odds to keep it when the world seems intent on wrenching it away. Fortunately, the scale is tipped towards the hopeful side of the equation just enough in What Remains, and it works. Unlike many other stories I’ve read (irrespective of genre), I liked both main characters in What Remains equally well. Jodi and Rupert are each wonderful in very different ways. Jodi is the more open of the pair, always quick with a joke, and unabashedly determined when it comes to loving Rupert. Rupert, by contrast, is quieter—mostly, I imagine, from the responsibilities he shoulders all the time. He’s more practical and uncertain, yet he’s no less resolute in his devotion to Jodi. Jodi almost shines too brightly compared to Rupert’s more reserved demeanor, but, the combination of personalities is actually perfect. What Remains is also one of those stories that needs to be experienced and shouldn’t be reduced to a few perfunctory statements....
Read More
Jun
13

Review + Giveaway: All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher

Review + Giveaway: All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher All The Wrong Places Author: Ann Gallagher Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Despite the risks of his career as a semi-pro skateboarder, most things in Brennan Cross’ life are good. He’s got a job he likes, good friends, and is working towards his dream of competing in the X Games someday. Even though his personal life is a little shaky at present, his biggest problem isn’t that his girlfriend cheated on him—it’s that she’s the third one to do so. And the fact that all three have blamed Brennan’s inability to meet their sexual “needs” has left him more than a little confused. Now, Brennan has questions. Where better to find some answers than the local sex shop? As a single father and a Muslim working in an adult toy shop, Zafir Hamady knows he’s an anomaly. Being asexual as well just adds to the list of complications that has kept him single for so long. Sure, he’s lonely, but all he really wants to do is give his son a good home and every opportunity to have a better life. The last thing he needs is to fall for the seemingly straight, yet very lost, skater who wandered into his store right after an ugly breakup. Too bad his heart has other ideas. I’ve been very excited to see an increase in Ace titles and characters in the last year or so, and not at all surprised to see the topic addressed so well in a Bluewater Bay story. Asexuality is a broad, multifaceted, yet little-explored topic, but I think that the author of All the Wrong Places approaches quite a few of these issues with compassion and respect that I appreciated a great deal. I liked both Brennan and Zafir a great deal, even though they are about as different from one another as possible—at least in the beginning. As the vehicle for self-discovery, I thought Brennan was very likable, for the most part, and was especially pleased to see that he was both serious and introspective, rather than a flaky caricature of skateboarding culture. It is Zafir, however, who is the heart of the story, and it was his cautious yearning and affection that really drew me in. While this story could easily have turned into a “How to be Asexual” pamphlet, I found it to be so much more. From the support group where Brennan begins to feel less isolated to Zafir’s...
Read More
Page 4 of 13« First...23456...10...Last »
logo
Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes