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Currently Browsing: LGBTQ
Feb
21

Review: Sex, Wolves & Rock ‘N Roll by Mina Carter

Review: Sex, Wolves & Rock ‘N Roll by Mina Carter Sex, Wolves & Rock ‘N Roll Author: Mina Carter  Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Trent Savage, drummer for the Lyric Hounds, the most famous werewolf band in the world, has a big problem. He’s found his mate, the one wolf for him, but can’t have him. “Sav” is out and proud, but his mate isn’t interested in anything but sampling as many different women as he can. The other wolf also just happens to be his band’s guitarist, and watching “K” choose all those nameless groupies over him is tearing Sav apart. Sav isn’t the only one with troubles, though. Primed by the Hounds’ management to be the wild, straight party boy of the group, Karlan Rixx has played his part well for a long time. Except that he’d rather be with the only wolf in the band whose rhythms help him connect with his music like no one else’s ever could. He’s also got another big secret, one that’s made him feel separated from the other wolves for years—a secret that could keep him from ever finding his true mate. Sav and K seem like typical rock stars with all the fame, parties, and groupies that go with it. Except that they’re wolves. And that Sav is gay. Star-crossed lovers with a twist, they are brought together by a single, terrible event, the repercussions of which could very well be the thing that tears them apart forever. Initially told from Sav’s perspective, I found it easy to feel sorry for him in the face of K’s perceived cruelty. By turns, once I got to know K better, I was disappointed for them both. The real problem, of course, is that each has been too stubborn and afraid all the time they’ve known one another to tell the truth. And that made me want to kick them both just a little. Thankfully, this is a 1Night Stand story as well, and anyone familiar with the series knows that nothing is impossible with Madame Eve and the 1Night Stand dating service. Her ability to help those who are lonely and hurting find their hearts’ desire is nothing short of magical, and her gifts were extremely welcome in this case. Telling any more here would give away the story, since wanting K and Sav to find their way back to one another made Sex, Wolves & Rock ‘N Roll a pleasure to read. The 1Night Stand series is...
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Feb
14

Review: Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau

Review: Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau Deep Deception Author: Cathy Pegau Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Senior Colonial Mining Authority agent Natalia Hallowell prides herself on her relentless pursuit of justice and her strong work ethic. So when she finds out that she is accused of taking bribes and illegally collecting evidence, she is angry and hurt. In order to deal with her work frustrations, Natalia looks to a few drinks and a one-night stand to ease the pain. That is until she meets Gennie. An immediate attraction sends Natalia to Gennie’s hotel room, only to be knocked out and tied up – but not in a fun way! Gennie is desperate to get off world, and needs assistance. She pleads for Natalia’s help to bring down the Reyes family – a well-known mining corporation. Reluctantly, Natalia agrees to help Gennie, and in order to bring down the Reyes, Gennie and Natalia must go undercover in a small mining district to uncover some anomalies in their shipping manifests. Although a stand alone story, Deep Deception is loosely tied to two other books in an unnamed science fiction romance series. Natalia and Gennie both have roles in the previous book, Caught in Amber: Natalia is a confidant and sometimes partner to Nathan Sterling, CiA’s hero, and Gennie, aka Genevieve, was the assistant to Guy Christiansen, CiA’s antagonist. Deep Deception takes place about six months after the conclusion of Caught in Amber. One does not need to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. Deep Deception is aptly named, with layers of lies and treachery that unfold throughout the tale. Since the story is shared from both Gennie and Natalia’s point-of-views, the reader is privy to some of the half-truths and deceptions, but the hefty lies are unveiled only as the story climaxes. While I enjoyed the complexity of the storyline, I did get frustrated at Gennie’s reluctancy to open up and trust Natalia. And maybe it’s the mystery-solver in me, but I felt like there were setups for problems and conspiracies that never came to be. I was suspicious of everyone, and therefore, a little disappointed when side stories would just peter out. However, the mystery of what is happening in South Meridian is a bit nerve-wracking. I was a bit on edge whenever the women did their spying–convinced something terrible would happen. Gennie and Natalia enjoy a strong mutual attraction; however mistrust and reluctancy keep the pair from acting...
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Jan
27

Review: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks

Review: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks The Beginning of Us Author: Sarah Brooks Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Beginning of Us is the story of the early days of a relationship between Tara Haus, a twenty-one year old college student, and her professor, Eliza Moore. Told from Tara’s perspective, it is a memoir of self-discovery, written to the absent Eliza, as a means of denying the very real possibility that the love Tara is so certain has grown between them never really existed at all. Not to be dismissed as the ramblings of a lovesick young woman, however, it is a cathartic examination of a specific, and momentous, period of time and growth in Tara’s life. I liked Tara a great deal from the beginning, and found her very easy to connect with as the story progressed. Her “awakening” throughout the narrative is filled with complicated moments of elation and despair, yet she never tries to hide from the truths she uncovers about herself along the way. After the initial panic, confusion, and hurt of suddenly missing someone who shouldn’t be gone, Tara begins to tell Eliza about herself in a Word document, coming to new conclusions about both of them in the process. Ms. Brooks captures the feeling of discovery very well, whether in Tara’s elation after her first class with Eliza, her sudden acceptance of her sexuality while biking over the hills outside of campus, or even her realization that Eliza isn’t the dazzling, fearless person she initially seemed to be. Tara is open and honest from the start, cycling through the bouts of questioning and acceptance with admirable determination. Eliza, on the other hand, I wasn’t as fond of. Eight years older than Tara, and fully aware of the younger woman’s attraction, Eliza is unsteady and self-centered. Her concern over the possible threat that loving another woman—and a student—might be to her meticulously constructed plans is understandable, especially given the intolerance she’s always known, but the mixed signals she perpetually sends Tara are not. As a professor, Eliza seems perfect at first, her challenge to her students providing the initial spark that alters Tara’s path irrevocably. Eventually, Tara realizes that Eliza may be enthusiastic about teaching young minds to break free of the bonds that hold them down, but she’s terrified of flying herself. Frankly, Tara deserves better. Despite the title, the relationship evolving between Tara and Eliza is only part of The Beginning of Us. Tara’s realization...
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Jan
17

Review: Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes

Review: Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes Dirty Deeds Author: S. E. Jakes  Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As a fan of the Hell or High Water series, I was very excited to hear about this short story featuring two of the most intriguing secondary characters in that series, Cillian and Mal. Since these two were so closely tied to the other stories I have come to love, I was very anxious to find out how their story might unfold in relation to the universe as a whole. After finishing Dirty Deeds, I found that it wasn’t what I expected—it was better. Like Prophet and Tommy, Cillian and Mal are impressively complicated characters, both certainly jaded and absolutely determined. As is true of the other operatives in these stories, they are damaged in a way that is beautiful, not because of what has happened to them, but because they continue to survive it. Ms. Jakes writes survivors well, the initial pain that has shaped Mal and Cillian seeming more like a notation in a list, one facet among many. Or, maybe that’s what they need to believe, anyway. Regardless, it is a necessary skill if they are to live through the narrative. Although the other stories I’ve read by Ms. Jakes have dark elements to them, this is especially true of Dirty Deeds. This darkness fits both Mal and Cillian well, however, and their respective histories and the resulting dispositions have a such a feeling of veracity about them that I cannot imagine either character being any other way. Both men operate in a world of half-truths and disbelief, neither having room in their lives for sentimentality, each determined to succeed ahead of, and better than, the other. They both have the advantage in different ways, Cillian because he knows for certain something Mal, Prophet, and their team only strongly suspect, and Mal because Cillian has no idea just how great a part Mal is playing in his overall predicament. They somehow manage to punish and console each other at the same time, usually through sex, and with someone else, if not each other. Sex plays an enormous role in the game that Mal and Cillian are engaged in. Rough and to the point, sex between them is both disturbing and mesmerizing, the importance of adhering to the strategy they’ve implemented, and the desperation-fueled, yet willing, lapses in it playing out in a treacherous dance. Still, a dangerous connection is made, and as...
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Dec
24

Review: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall

Review: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall Iron & Velvet Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: There’s one thing that can be said for certain about Kate Kane: she does not date vampires. Well, she tries not to date vampires. Except for the Prince of Cups, who’s managed to win Kate over with her bribes of pudding and the phenomenal sex that Kate’s not really interested in resisting. Hired to investigate a murder perpetrated outside a nightclub belonging to said Prince, she quickly learns that this case is going to get messy fast—and not the figurative sort of messy, either. As a mostly-mortal faery princess with a drinking problem and a penchant for composing her own varying, yet gruesomely hilarious, headstone inscriptions, she’s got her work cut out for her. But, with an unlikely assortment of supernatural allies by her side, she just might survive and win the girl after all. For this review, I’ll begin with a warning, and then move on to better things. This story is filled with lots of icky things and places. And I don’t mean that as a deterrent to reading the story (because I liked it tremendously overall), but as a warning if you’re easily grossed out. The descriptions of the monsters, the sewers (and things associated with them), the carnage of battle, etc., are vivid and creative, which actually made Iron & Velvet a lot of fun to read. No half-visualized, amorphous, lackluster baddies here—no sir. These things are so delightfully revolting that I couldn’t finish the cookie I was nibbling on during one especially descriptive scene. I’m not usually a fan of gore, but Kate is such a great character, and her perspective so sharp and unorthodox, that I set my treat aside to finish the scene. Which is saying something, because it was a really good cookie. One of my favorite things about Iron & Velvet is that I found it to be genuinely, uproariously, snort-inducingly funny. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard over a suspense novel. There are so many quips and zings, as well as drily observed portents of destruction, that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire story—even those above-mentioned gory parts. There are plenty of gems dotting the narrative, even from the very beginning, one that had me snickering early on being: “There’s a dead body in the alley outside.” “And it just slipped your mind?” “No, I just decided to seduce you first.” “Corpse first.” “He’s...
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Nov
21

Review: Blood Brothers by Susan Arden

Review: Blood Brothers by Susan Arden Blood Brothers Author: Susan Arden Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Having returned from war soul-worn and defensive, Tristen is a prisoner of his own nightmares, only finding relief in the arms of his lover, Fin. Still haunted by his own experiences in battle, Fin has given Tristen everything he can, without having his own needs met, in turn. Bringing someone else into the already complicated situation might not be the best idea, but something has to give, and soon, or they could lose each other forever. Maybe one night with a stranger who can push both their boundaries is exactly what they need to break down the walls between them once and for all. I was torn when reading Blood Brothers, and found myself considering the narrative from two distinct perspectives. One of those viewpoints includes an appreciation for unabashedly explicit sex scenes, the other being my desire to be captivated by a well-written story that is colored throughout by the heat and eroticism shared between the various characters. As varied as the definition of “erotic fiction” has become, either fits well in this case. Tristen and Fin are both interesting creations and have evolved from “friends with benefits,” to lovers, to potential wolf shifter mates. That they care deeply about each other is obvious throughout the story, but their lack of communication is so profound that it nearly destroys their relationship. The miscues and resulting frustration became difficult to watch after a while, yet they added a great deal of meaning to what would have otherwise been an implausible attachment. Primarily, Blood Brothers is about sex. Sex with Fin is Tristen’s preferred way of dealing with his nightmares, whereas Fin prefers yoga to keep the memories at bay. By turns, Tristen’s tendency to call the shots in bed while refusing to fully dominate Fin only serves to make Fin realize that his need for an even rougher edge isn’t being met, leaving him bitter and distant. Fin’s plan to invite a vampire into their bed for one night, in the hope of pushing Tristen to accept Fin’s needs and meet them as his lover, has some unintended, yet not unexpected, consequences. The entire progression is filled with more combinations of partners and positions than I could really keep track of, which unfortunately tended to run together after a while and lose some of its impact. As to the story itself, I think reading the first...
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Nov
13

Blog Tour & Review: Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux (plus Giveaway!)

Blog Tour & Review: Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux (plus Giveaway!) Shock & Awe (and Bait & Switch) Author: Abigail Roux  Reviewer: B. Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Born of an anti-smoking campaign, a healthy dose of serendipitous chemistry, and a contest bribe, Shock & Awe is, in my experience, one of the best gifts of writing an author has ever given to the fans. This offshoot of the Cut & Run series shouldn’t exist (I recommend looking up the chain of events if you don’t already know it—it’s a fun chain of events), but, thankfully, now does. Kelly wasn’t supposed to survive the events of Touch & Geaux, and Ms. Roux had other plans for Nick. But, the characters had a mind of their own, and altered the shape of things to come. I admit that I had mixed feelings about Nick O’Flaherty when he was formally introduced in the series. My heart was overruling my head, as has been a consistent side effect of reading Ms. Roux’s works, and it took a second reading for me to understand his perspective a little better. By the next book he appeared in, Armed & Dangerous, I began to love him, and upon finishing Touch & Geaux I was completely hooked. Nick is a good man through to his soul and a ferociously loyal friend, ranking his allegiance to Team Sidewinder—his real and chosen family—above all else. Kelly Abbott, on the other hand, has always been a favorite of mine. From his initial appearance, he’s been an open, shiny presence, living honestly and with a generosity of self that is so very rare it’s stunning. Referred to more than once as the “heart” of Team Sidewinder, Kelly lives his life without pretense or malice, his devotion to the other members of his unit unwavering and all encompassing. Similarly to Nick, they are the only real family he’s ever known, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. He is always willing to put himself on the line in every way for those he loves, even if it hurts him. One of the things that made me love Kelly even more in Shock & Awe is that, although Kelly wants everything that being with Nick promises to be, he knows Nick so well that he is willing to settle for whatever piece of himself his best friend is able to give. Though the chemistry between them is undeniable, their differences are substantial and add intensity and genuineness to their situation....
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Nov
6

Review: Bad Idea by Damon Suede

Review: Bad Idea by Damon Suede Bad Idea Author: Damon Suede  Reviewer: B. Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Trip Spector has spent years slowly going numb, drawing a comic he can’t stand for a man he wants badly, but can’t have. Aimless and highly allergic to pretty much everything, he knows he’s meant to do more with his life, but has no idea what that could possibly be until a chance encounter with a handsome zombie in the woods inspires him to take a chance for the first time in years. But, even the gorgeous, surprising special effects artist may not be enough to help Trip pursue his dreams when his worst habits come back to haunt him. Sampling his way through the judgmental, expiration date-obsessed NYC singles scene has left Silas Goolsby feeling empty and detached. But, when his missed opportunity with a shy, nerdy artist turns into an unexpected second chance, he knows he’ll have to leave all his familiar patterns behind if they want a future together that really matters. Moving on from his past isn’t easy, no matter how much he wants to, but giving his heart away could cost Silas more than he has to give. Trip and Silas are likely the most perfect couple that nearly weren’t that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. On the surface, they don’t have much in common except the artistic nature of their respective professions, and that they’re both gay. Beneath the surface, however, they share a nerd streak that won’t quit and an eager indulgence of their decidedly non-stereotypical sexual inclinations. Otherwise, they couldn’t be more different. Trip has more hang-ups than a dry cleaner, but, from the minute figures out that what Silas really needs is exactly what he’s been aching to give, he’s hooked. Silas, on the other hand, is honest, brazen, devoted, and doesn’t do anything halfway. They both know how the script they’re supposed to be acting out goes, and have lived it faithfully in the past. Once they find each other, however, they realize that they’re tired of playing along and begin to follow their hearts instead. Aside from the unlikely, yet fascinating, pairing of these two artists, Bad Idea is a slice of pure nerd heaven. Maybe Nerdvana. With bountiful pop culture references, heaps of artistic legend name-dropping, and a fearless skewering of “play it safe” industry risk-avoidance, this novel was a complete hoot to read. “The Tick” references alone were enough...
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Oct
22

Review: Wallflower by Heidi Belleau

Review: Wallflower by Heidi Belleau Wallflower Author: Heidi Belleau Reviewer: B. Rating: 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Robert Ng fully accepts what he is: a shy, gay, nerdy gamer and art student who has always felt eclipsed by the shimmering, magnetic personality of his beloved older sister. But, the somewhat self-imposed isolation of his youth has turned into loneliness and an earnest desire to be someone that others are naturally drawn to. The only time he feels strong, confident, and desirable is when he’s playing as Bobby: the only female, orc-slaying member of an online RPG guild, who is not only accepted by her peers, but is the subject of their flirtations as well. She is beautiful, outgoing, witty—everything Rob wishes he could be. If only he could be Bobby every now and then in real life, too. Being new to this series, I had no idea what to expect from Wallflower, and I’m glad to say I was very pleasantly surprised. This story is about Rob’s journey towards self-acceptance, not just a telling of events that lead to a conclusion. Every step he takes towards discovering who he’s supposed to be is regarded with honesty and respect, giving the character a veracity that was easy to accept. In the beginning, Rob believes that in order to break out of his shell, he has to be someone else entirely. But, by the end, he’s arrived at an entirely different opinion. Dylan, Rob’s new boyfriend, is likewise a terrific character. He is understanding and kind, and has no filter between his brain and his mouth whatsoever. He is completely devoid of artifice, his compassion shaped by his own, sometimes difficult, experiences. In general, he has a unique and welcome point of view. This is especially apparent during a wonderful scene that takes place in an art gallery, when he talks about the fallacy of perception, not only of celebrities, but how much of ourselves we either discard or alter before presenting what we believe to be an “acceptable” version of ourselves to the rest of the world. It’s good stuff all around. In the end, Rob didn’t need an alter ego to find the confidence he so desperately desired. He just had to accept that Bobby wasn’t a completely different persona, but rather, a facet, and an equally deserving part, of who he really was. He learned that no one’s path is guaranteed to be free of pain and misunderstanding, and that friends who...
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Oct
10

Review: Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes

Review: Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes Catch A Ghost Author: SE Jakes  Reviewer: B. Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: To begin with, I really liked Catch a Ghost. A lot. There were so many things that I liked equally about it, in fact, that I’m not sure where to begin. This story hit every button I’ve got: good writing, complex characters that get under your skin, lots of action, suspense, angst, a little romance, and so on. As a “sub-series” within an established universe (Extreme Escapes Limited), I’m hopeful that the two main characters, Prophet and Tommy, will have plenty of room to stretch and flesh out the parameters of their relationship, without that evolution becoming hurried. Time seems to be more important for some characters than others, and these two men definitely need it. Either that, or I’m a little bit in love with both of them, and I’ll take as many of their stories as I can get. Prophet and Tom are truly wonderful characters. Both are scarred warriors (although not in precisely the same way), keeping their secrets locked away tight while trying to separate their pasts from the present. Yet, for all their mutual antagonizing and denials, there’s also a magnetic pull that connects them, which was at once compelling and fascinating. A more accurate comparison might be the irrefutable attraction that exists between opposing forces. Prophet doesn’t want a partner so that he won’t let anyone else down. Tom wants to partner with Prophet in order to prove that he won’t do that exact thing. Prophet is a master of control, at least to the casual observer. Tom needs to learn to have some. Together, however, they are wickedly provocative, and even though they know that sex with one another is a bad idea, they can’t help but give into their desire anyway. Whether it’s a need for physical pleasure or for basic comfort is questionable, if not irrelevant, depending on the situation and perspective. Yet, even here, they oppose one another. Tom wants more of Prophet in every respect and pursues something more substantial with him to that end. Prophet, meanwhile, denies the unmistakable connection between them to everyone, including himself. Sexually, these two are more well matched than they’d like to admit, each encounter being more of a skirmish, as if the only common ground they can bear to acknowledge is the intimacy of battle. One of my favorite things about Catch A Ghost is...
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