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Currently Browsing: LGBTQ
Nov
29

Review: Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Review: Daring Fate by Megan Erickson Daring Fate Author: Megan Erickson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Reese and younger brother Jude have escaped their werewolf pack and its sadistic alpha, Xan. However, their sister remains behind, and with the threat that Xan will mate her in a month, the pressure is on Reese to save her. The problem: Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip Were pack. When his Pack Guard found and rescued two werewolves from the Noweres, the last thing Dare expected was to find his True Mate. But Dare embraces Reese as his mate and over time, the pair form a deeper bond beyond the sex of mating. As Reese learns more about the once-feared Silver Tip Alpha, he is torn between protecting his mate and adopted pack and rescuing his sister. Daring Fate is the first book in Megan Erickson’s new Silver Tip Pack series. Ms. Erickson successfully introduces readers to a twist on the shifter mythology. A century ago, there was a virus that killed all of the humans and two-thirds of the Weres… but those Weres that died became Noweres, an undead version of the warrior Were form. Werewolves and Weres live in isolated packs, remaining fairly solitary and at peace with one another, as long as they leave the one another alone. What remains after the virus are three species: werewolves, who shift between human and a wolf; Weres, who shift between human, wolf, and a huge wolf/human hybrid; and Noweres, the undead monsters. Dare and Reese are a rare True Mated couple. While Reese’s werewolf parents were True Mates and equal lovers, he wasn’t old enough to understand what the bond meant before they were killed before his eyes. Dare knows of no True Mated Weres, and neither know of a cross-species situation. This leaves both men lost, without a clue what is normal or to be expected with True Mates, and I like that both are a bit terrified of doing something wrong. I feel the story was made stronger with both Reese and Dare fully accepting and embracing the mating bond, and that the mating was done right up front, rather than a constant, reluctant pull throughout the story. They are completely sexually compatible, and as time goes on, they discover they are compatible in all important matters of the heart. The True Mate aspect, as well as the complex shifter mythology, give the story a strong sense of a traditional...
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Nov
7

Review: Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown

Review: Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown Take Me Home Author: Lorelie Brown Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Lorelie Brown is a new author for me, so I was excited to read her newest addition to the Belladonna Ink series. Keighley is a twenty-three-year-old accountant who isn’t exactly looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family. Though her mother is very supportive, her Christian fundamentalist aunt gives them both a lot of grief because Keighley is a lesbian. Fed up with the whole situation, the solution quickly becomes clear: bring a date to dinner. A Craigslist ad then leads her to the perfect “girlfriend” for the occasion. In contrast, Brooke is a twenty-four-year-old tattooist with no real family ties whatsoever. With her bright pink hair, tattoos, and rapid-fire snark, she quickly became my favorite character in the story. Solitary in the extreme, Brooke’s independence cloaks a heartfelt longing for acceptance that she never had growing up, and she thinks that being invited to share Keighley’s will satisfy that need just a little. She also loves dogs, which completely sealed the deal for me. While I liked this story a great deal, there were a couple of issues that niggled at me during the course of the novella. Keighley’s mother, who seems completely wonderful in many ways, consistently tolerates the antagonistic aunt, but is then fine with Keighley’s plans to stir things up during Thanksgiving dinner. It appears to be a case of “keeping the peace,” and it was a well-written scene, but I just couldn’t easily reconcile the disparity. Later on, Brooke says that Keighley’s desire for a tattoo is sudden, but Keighley begins pondering getting one before they even meet. There were a few others as well, but, overall, these discrepancies were small, and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. Having said that, there was a lot to like about Take Me Home. Keighley’s mind is a very busy place, which is kind of funny much of the time, particularly when she’s trying to make a good impression on Brooke. Though they’re only a year apart in age, Brooke seems more mature and complex, while still clearly searching for something to fill the absence of really belonging. There are plenty of other great moments, care of Keighley’s sister and the neighbors, and, especially, Bennet the dog, who is my other favorite character in the story. The intimate scenes between Keighley and Brooke occupy a significant portion of the novella, and I think...
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Oct
24

Review + Blog Tour: Interborough by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Interborough by Santino Hassell Interborough Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read that Interborough would be a follow-up to Raymond and David’s first story in the series, Sunset Park. While the latter ended well, this new narrative is even more complicated and beautiful, sometimes ruthlessly illustrating the fact that finding happiness and keeping it are two very different things. As was the case in Sunset Park, I found Raymond impossible not to love. Instead of the traditional trope of the wayward son failing to live up to the expectations of others, Ray never had anyone in his life to believe in what he could be in the first place—until David. Now that he and David have been together for a year and a half, however, he’s working two full-time jobs as well as attending college classes. He’s definitely got his mind on the future, but he’s worn himself down to the bone, leaving little to no time to focus on his relationship with David. Regardless, Raymond is a truly wonderful character, and I couldn’t help becoming thoroughly invested in him all over again. While I still had a harder time settling into David’s corner, I thought the feelings that fueled his actions were clearer in Interborough, especially later in the story. David’s desperate need to avoid feeling insubstantial in his own life does not manifest itself well at all, and when an abundance of alcohol was involved, I actually had to set the book aside and pace for a little while. As much as I wished I could have intervened on occasion, David’s own desire to stop himself, along with his inability to do so, made me feel completely awful for them both. I don’t often dwell on the sex scenes in a story, but in the case of Interborough, they were about far more than just the act itself. Even the most intimate moments between Raymond and David have layers of meaning—love, desperation, remembrance, and regret—and the shadow of loss is almost always present, creeping in at the edges. Oftentimes, it seemed that the literal, physical connection was only thing keeping them from flying apart altogether. While the relationship between Ray and David is the main focus of the narrative, Interborough unflinchingly examines several contributing factors that are undeniably relevant in our world every day. The fact that Ray is Puerto Rican and David is a “preppy white boy”...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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