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Currently Browsing: LGBTQ
Jan
5

Review + Giveaway: Liberty and Other Stories by Alexis Hall

Review + Giveaway: Liberty and Other Stories by Alexis Hall Liberty and Other Stories Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Liberty and Other Stories is a remarkable telling of the various backgrounds and evolutions of the crew of the Shadowless (Byron Kae’s aethership), who were introduced to us in Prosperity. Through Piccadilly, Mr. Hall gave us expertly delivered teases and glimpses into their respective pasts, which were just enough to make me insanely curious about how they all came to be in the skytown in the first place. This assortment of hearsay, correspondence, and recollections provides some of those answers. As usual, Mr. Hall has proven himself to be an exceptional writer, bedecking the journey with subtle moments of insight almost carelessly, their influence often lingering in the aftermath. Each story can be read independently of the other, but I recommend reading them all, as the rest of the narratives and content, with the exception of Shackles, all add tremendously to the reading of both Prosperity and the final story, Liberty. Shackles explains how Ruben Crowe met, and fell for, the recently fallen “crime prince of Gaslight,” Milord. While it wasn’t my favorite of the four, it is still interesting for both everything we learn about Milord and the effect that information, as well as the man himself, has on Ruben. We also find out why Ruben broke with the Church and see more of the workings of Milord’s world as a whole. Shackles contains one explicit sexual interaction (for those in need of warning) and seems to be primarily designed to answer questions raised in Prosperity, as neither Ruben nor Milord play a direct role in the happenings of Liberty. Squamous with a Chance of Rain describes how Miss Jane Grey, navigatress of Shadowless and friend of Captain Byron Kae, began her journey towards insanity, addiction, and unapologetic depravity. I like Jane tremendously, and was very glad to finally have more of her history, which was only glanced over before. Told in a succession of one-sided correspondence between Jane and a recently married former companion from Miss Gither’s Finishing School (which must have been quite an institution!), Squamous illustrates the rapid progression of Jane’s curse from its inception. I thought this was the funniest of the offerings, and cackled repeatedly over Jane’s sharp wit and ready use of proper speech for the discussion of some very improper notions. Next, we are treated to bonus content in the form of journal entries from Mrs....
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Dec
30

Review: Redeeming Raygan by Megan Slayer

Review: Redeeming Raygan by Megan Slayer Redeeming Raygan Author: Megan Slayer Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Sent by his publisher to Zero, Ohio after a bitter divorce from his husband, Jamie Grusin just wanted to hide out and get his novel back on track. He certainly wasn’t looking for a relationship when he decided to rent the small apartment over the local watering hole. Having dealt with one high-maintenance lover who ended up cheating on him, the last thing he should be thinking about is his brooding, skeptical new landlord. But, he can’t deny that something about the man intrigues him, and if spending time together is inspiring in more ways than one, who is he to argue? Having recently inherited the Eight Ball bar, Raygan Mason has his hands full trying to modernize the place from the ground up. His new tenant’s attentions, however, are proving to be an especially irresistible distraction. Well aware that his personal history makes him a terrible candidate for anyone’s boyfriend, Raygan has sworn never to open up to anyone again. Still, there’s only so much temptation he can take, and losing this battle just might be exactly what he needs. Throughout the story, I found Raygan to be a complex, if mildly confusing, character. Initially, I had a hard time reconciling his claim of being a habitually lousy boyfriend with his current fear of rejection, but felt his straightforward observations of those around him were refreshing. I liked Jeep fairly well, too, and thought most of his actions were justifiable, particularly since neither he nor Raygan seem to be amenable to the prospect of long-term, mutual involvement at first. The erotic tension between the two of them is likewise nicely done and builds steadily from the very beginning. Ms. Slayer’s characters once again have some legitimate doubts about the concept of “forever,” but they don’t take the happiness they have for granted, and the “happy for now” ending really works here. Leon’s reappearance was a special treat, also, and I loved the way he brightened up every scene he was in. While I enjoyed Redeeming Raygan, there were a couple of moments that seemed a little awkward, and clouded portions of the story for me. As was the case with the previous story, Mixing Mike, keeping up with the time that passed was difficult on occasion, and I had to reread those sections a few times to make sure I had it right. I also...
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Dec
26

Review: Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft

Review: Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft Three the Hard Way Author: Sydney Croft Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Taggart and Justice were childhood friends and more. On the run together with their mothers, the pair had to hide their unusual abilities out of fear they will be taken and killed just like their fathers. However, that all changed a few years back when both Tag and Justice’s moms were killed. Justice made the decision to join ACRO, a black-ops organization friendly to those with paranormal powers, whereas Tag went off the grid. The once inseparable lovers and best friends were no more. Tag spent the past year on the run from ITOR, and evil organization who kidnapped and used his powers for murder. Betrayed to ITOR by Ian, the only man Tag thought he could love after leaving Justice, Tag must turn to Justice for help. Three the Hard Way is a quick story set in the wonderful ACRO universe. This is one of my favorite series of all time, so I jumped at the chance to read and review the book. Generally, I enjoyed my return to ACRO; however, I felt the shorter-length story was missing some character development and relationship growth. Tag has some major baggage, and he comes across extremely needy and selfish. He has two men who are willing to take care of and love him, yet the chip on his shoulder weighs heavily. Once he is able to lift his burdens, the flow of the book moved more smoothly. Making three work as more than sex and as a true romance can be tough because of the odd man out, but the authors make this work. Two men both love the same man and are willing to try, especially because they are attracted to one another. But it works because they both love Tag so much. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but the shortness of the novella made for some easy fixes, and I would have preferred more in-depth development as the trio went from enemies to lovers. However, the authors do a pretty good job of tackling the backstory of three men and allowing some healing. Per usual for the ACRO series, there are some hot and heavy erotic sex scenes. Generally, the scenes are used to display and convey the characters’ emotional states and well being. Three the Hard Way is a fun, sexy novella, I just wanted more between the explosive beginning and...
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Dec
18

Review: Mixing Mike by Megan Slayer

Review: Mixing Mike by Megan Slayer Mixing Mike Author: Megan Slayer Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Sure, everybody has their quirks, but Mike Larson’s album collection is in a league of its own. It also speaks of an obsession that tends to make a lot of people keep their distance. Which is fine by him, since the last guy he let get too close betrayed him. But, loneliness doesn’t really suit Mike, and what he’d like is to find someone he can truly relate to—not that such a man actually exists. Though he’s never much cared for commitment before, Leon Sanders isn’t sure he can help himself when the gorgeous, self-conscious man in business casual walks into his record store on a mission. Haggling over hard-to-find albums gives Leon a thrill, but something about Mike makes him want more than just a one-night stand. But, letting down his guard has not served him well, and doing so now won’t be easy. But, somehow, he’s not going to let this chance at real happiness slip through his fingers without a fight. While I have read quite a few short stories designed for quick gratification and a guaranteed happy ending, I ran into several difficulties with Mixing Mike. Mike and Leon are both interesting characters, but, even with the brevity of the story, the speed with which they progress from their initial meeting to referring to each other as “friend,” along with the casual, physical gestures that accompanied the designation, felt a little awkward. I find that one-night stands are fairly easy to accept, but the instant friendship here is a bit harder to believe, and caused me to question my understanding of the timeline involved. The confusion over the passage of time, as well as a shift in the subject of the action of a scene, and so forth, made it difficult to stay with the story from beginning to end. Having said that, though, it is true that there are pros and cons with any series of this kind, and there were plenty of good things in Mixing Mike that can be built on as well. Ms. Slayer has written two characters who are complete opposites on the surface, but very much alike at heart. They are unique, and both are survivors adrift, but not yet drowning. It is a sweet story, in many ways, and Mike and Leon are certainly incredibly sexually compatible. They are at their best when they are together...
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Dec
4

Review + Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield

Review + Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hell on Wheels by Z.A. Maxfield Hell On Wheels Author: Z. A. Maxfield Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Living in Bluewater Bay always suited Nash Holly just fine, for the most part. Taking on a lot of the responsibility for his family at a young age never made his path an easy one, but he gladly accepted his role with unshakeable devotion. The idea that there might be more for him wasn’t anything he allowed himself to think about, at least until a close call on a rainy night turns out to be much more than it seems. Spencer Kepler-Constantine knows all about the pitfalls of fame, but recent heartbreak has made his entire existence a misery. Unable to escape the spotlight, he’s determined to hide his pain from everyone, including himself, if he can possibly manage it. But, when an unexpectedly erotic interlude with a stranger who doesn’t play by the rules shakes Spencer up in lovely and terrifying ways, he begins to wonder if the best thing to ever happen to him isn’t right in front of him after all. Hell on Wheels is an appealingly simple, romantic tale of two men who aren’t exactly looking for anything, but end up finding it anyway. Nash and Spencer are opposites in just about every way possible. Nash is a high-octane, small-town mechanic whose commitment to his family doesn’t leave him any room for romance. Spencer is a famous celebrity on a popular TV show who is in the middle of a very public divorce and would prefer to avoid another relationship at all costs. A “no-strings” arrangement would be preferable to both men, if only they weren’t so perfect for each other. While it is neither action-packed nor suspenseful, Hell on Wheels is a sweet story about expectations and honesty, and the dangers of making assumptions, no matter how badly our hearts want something. Though their respective worlds seem to clash spectacularly, Spencer and Nash are more complimentary than either is willing to admit, except sexually—an element of their relationship they both (thankfully) embrace. Z.A. Maxfield has, once again, written two complicated, deserving characters who have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be happy, yet who can’t seem to let go of their own fears long enough to reach for it until it’s almost too late. With one exception, each of the Bluewater Bay stories is written by different authors and is meant to be read as a standalone. However, I thoroughly enjoyed...
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Dec
1

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft Three the Hard Way Lovers Taggart Brody and Justice McKinney possess special abilities that make them valuable to agencies who employ—or enslave—people with extraordinary talents. When tragedy tears them apart, Justice finds purpose working for the good guys: ACRO, the super-secret Agency for Covert Rare Operatives. But he never forgets Taggart or the past they once shared. Heartbroken, Taggart runs from who he is . . . right into the arms of Ian Bridges. But Ian, battling his own demons, betrays Tag to the terrorist organization Itor. After months of torture, Tag manages to escape, but kills an ACRO agent in the process.   With nowhere left to turn, Tag disappears into the Alaskan wilderness, but it’s only a matter of time before his enemies track him down. He reaches out to Justice, and somehow Ian finds him too, hoping to right his wrongs. With ACRO and Itor both bearing down, the three men must figure out how to forgive, how to work together, and how to love each other—or the coming battle will destroy them all. Share the Love Each year, Riptide Publishing releases a holiday collection in support of an LGBTQ charity. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the  Share the Love collection  will be donated to the  It Gets Better Project. This collection would not be possible without the talent and generosity of its authors, who have brought us the following holiday stories: Three of Hearts  by Kelly Jamieson (releasing November 17) Lucky Strike  by Jane Davitt (releasing November 24) Three the Hard Way  by Sydney Croft (releasing December 1) About Sydney Croft Sydney Croft is the alter-ego of Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler, two  New York Times  bestselling authors who blend their very different writing interests into adventurous tales of erotic paranormal fiction. Together, they developed a world where people with extraordinary abilities, like the power to control storms, could live and work with others like them. The series has been described as “Erotica meets the X-Men,” and is unique in its own “erotic super hero romance” niche. Larissa and Stephanie live in different states and communicate almost entirely through email, though they often get together for conferences and book signings. Giveaway Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $25 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 7.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. This contest is sponsored by the publisher. This contest is open...
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Nov
28

Quickie Review: The Christmas Top by Christi Snow

Quickie Review: The Christmas Top by Christi Snow The Christmas Top Author: Christi Snow Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Not surprisingly, Christi Snow has written yet another wonderfully sweet and sexy story with The Christmas Top. In this addition to the 1Night Stand series we’re introduced to Jason Wieland and Mark Cummins, two men on the edge of a new beginning that could be the answer to their wildest fantasies. Both men are trying to start over with a clean slate, although for very different reasons, and are hoping that Madame Eve can help make their Christmas wishes come true. Of course, all of the 1Night Stand stories I’ve read so far have been erotic in nature, and The Christmas Top delivers on that expectation beautifully. Mark has a very specific idea about what he wants from the arrangement, and it just so happens that Jason is the perfect man to provide it. Jason’s objective at the beginning of their date is more substantive and bittersweet, but, as the evening progresses, his desires are not only met, but end more happily than he could have hoped for. The Christmas Top is just the thing for anyone who enjoys their m/m romance with a little bit of an edge to it. Jason and Mark are interesting, warm-hearted characters, and knowing there would be a happy ending for them made their story a real pleasure to read. There aren’t any big surprises or a lot of angst here; just a nice mix of eroticism and romance that makes this an excellent indulgence for the holidays. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: All he wants for Christmas… It’s time for Mark Cummins to come out of the closet. He’s ready, but he’s never been topped. Asking Madame Eve for the one-night stand of his fantasies, he hopes she can grant his Christmas wish. He’s a less-than-merry gentleman… Jason Wieland’s life partner died in a horrific hate crime two years before and he hasn’t taken a lover since. He knows it’s time, and he reaches out to the 1Night Stand dating service to find the right man to light up his holiday. But when masculine, sexy, and extremely straight Mark shows up, he doesn’t know what to do. Is this 1Night Stand a cruel joke or has Madame Eve truly worked Christmas magic? Release Date: December 6, 2013 Publisher: Decadent Publishing Series: 1 Night Stand ISBN: #978-1613336335 Genre: LBGTQ, m/m romance, novella Format(s): e-book Book...
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Nov
21

Blog Tour Spotlight: Gabriel’s City by Laylah Hunter

Blog Tour Spotlight: Gabriel’s City by Laylah Hunter Hi, everyone, thanks for having me on this tour for Gabriel’s City! Don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of this post to win a chance at the ZOMG Smells giveaway! Spoiled young aristocrat Colin Harwood has always enjoyed flirting with danger, but he’s always been able to retreat to safety—until bad decisions and a chance encounter plunge him into a world far more savage than his own. Gabriel is an urban legend, famous in the underworld for his unpredictability and violence. He’s also a believer fairy tales, and quick to decide to the handsome stranger who came to his aid must be good luck. With few other options remaining, Colin will need to keep his wits about him to learn to survive in Gabriel’s City. Full blurb For spoiled young aristocrat Colin Harwood, the port city of Casmile is a buffet of easy pleasures. But when he steps into a pub brawl to help a dangerously outnumbered young man, he is drawn into the seedy underbelly of the city the young man calls home. Gabriel is a cutpurse and a knife for hire, practically an urban legend. His vision of Casmile is touched by a strange combination of faith and madness, driven by fairytale logic and a capacity for love that he often must suppress to survive. He’s always worked alone, but when a dashing dragon who calls himself Colin saves him in a bar fight, he pulls Colin into his world. Gabriel’s city is nothing like the refined, socialite existence that bored Colin senseless. Colin finds adventure and excitement there—and maybe even love. But with his layers of finery stripped away, nothing remains to protect him from poverty or danger—except Gabriel. So he must choose: go back to the civilized young man he once was, or fly free as Gabriel’s dragon. About Laylah Hunter Laylah Hunter is a third-gendered butch queer who writes true stories about imaginary people in worlds that never were. Most of her work deals with queer characters, erotic themes, and the search for happy endings in unfavorable circumstances. Hir mild-mannered alter ego lives in Seattle, at the mercy of the requisite cats and cultivating the requisite caffeine habit, and dreams of a day when telling stories will pay all the bills. Connect with Laylah: Website:  laylahhunter.com Twitter:  @LaylahHunter Goodreads:  goodreads.com/Laylah_Hunter Laylah is Riptide’s Featured Author for November:  http://riptidepublishing.com/authors/laylah-hunter Giveaway! I have the good fortune to be friends with the charming people...
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Nov
14

Review: No Boundaries by SE Jakes

Review: No Boundaries by SE Jakes No Boundaries Author: SE Jakes Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’ve become a huge fan of many of Ms. Jakes’ other series, including some written under her other pen names, so I was very eager to read the first of the Phoenix, Inc. stories, as well. No Boundaries introduces us to two intriguing and volatile characters, Cole Jacobs and Marcus Lowry, both of whom have pasts that they’d rather not revisit—ever. Unfortunately, the past is never so acquiescent, and, in Cole’s case, it is sometimes deadly. Ms. Jakes never fails to write relatable, compelling characters, and I immediately liked Cole a great deal. He is young, resilient, and beautiful, but the self-assured exterior he presents to everyone around him masks a vulnerability that defies the image he tries so hard to project. He is wary and more than a little jaded, and although he knows exactly what he is, he has no concept of his own potential. Fortunately, that changes over the course of the story, and Cole eventually realizes that what he wants most is both noble and good, and that even someone “like himself” deserves to be loved. Marcus, on the other hand, needs an entirely different kind of saving. After his last, disastrous operation for the CIA, the snarly, burned-out private investigator has been limiting himself to “boring,” safe cases that aren’t fulfilling, but don’t put anyone at risk, either. Having been betrayed by his ex-boyfriend as well, he’s about as cynical as they come, and his immediate distrust of his new charge reveals more of his own issues than Cole’s. The one thing he can’t deny is that Cole makes him absolutely crazy on several levels, which just might be exactly what they both need after all. No Boundaries is a suspenseful, well-written tale of vengeance and redemption that easily kept me guessing right along with the characters. With such an adept and highly dangerous stalker in play, I couldn’t help but be nervous for all the men involved, and wanted him brought down just as badly as they did. There were quite a few close calls that worried me a great deal, combined with the stress caused by Marcus’ continual attempts at romantic self-sabotage. None of which I could possibly resist. This story moves quickly and hits hard, making the characters’ much deserved moments of intimacy all the more appreciated. The relationship between Cole and Marcus doesn’t begin gently, but rather,...
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Nov
7

Spotlight + Review: Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Grey

Spotlight + Review: Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Grey Circus of the Damned Author: Cornelia Grey Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I admit that, having just finished one wonderful Steampunk novel, I was almost afraid of what I might encounter in Circus of the Damned, especially since Ms. Grey is a new author to me. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried at all. What I found was a magical, imaginative, and very well written story that kept me fully captivated from start to finish. From the beginning, Gilbert is an interesting character, but his self-imposed (yet understandable) solitude makes him seem incomplete. While his circumstances necessitate an unhealthy amount of bravado and self-sufficiency, his successfully reckless methods for surviving haven’t exactly made him a sympathetic man. Gilbert soon learns that excessive alcohol consumption and magic are a truly horrible combination, and he finds that the patterns he assumed would dictate the rest of his existence have merely been the prologue for something much bigger. As Farfarello, the most crucial of the remaining characters notes: “You’re an arrogant man, Gilbert Blake, and I will be delighted to watch you learn a little humility.” While Gilbert acts as the narrator, it is the other main character, Jesse, whom I loved from his very first scene. Complicated, troubled, compassionate, and beautiful, Jesse is the glue that holds everything together. The entire circus revolves around him, and Gilbert’s fascination with him is fully understandable. While all of Gilbert’s new companions alter him in various ways, it is Jesse that turns him completely inside out, and rightly so. As much as I liked losing myself in the intricacies of Gilbert and Jesse’s relationship, I enjoyed the narrative as a whole just as much. It is a dark, clever, perilous journey, filled with suspense, and sometimes sorrow, but the hope that keeps the characters going throughout the story is undeniable. From the outset, the pressure began building, quickly and steadily, and my anticipation of what might happen when the turning point came was considerable. Although Circus of the Damned works fine as a standalone, I’m looking forward to reading the first story in the series, Devil at the Crossroads. Ms. Grey is a gifted storyteller, creating richly vivid scenes that played out effortlessly in my mind and stayed with me even after I’d finished the book. Filled with some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, Circus of the Damned is a unique, thought-provoking,...
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