Review: DH Starr – The One I Choose

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the oneAuthor: DH Starr
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Wilde City
Genre: MM Contemporary
ISBN: 9781925180404

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: Cal and Rhys have been together for three years. Having met and lived together in New York City, their lives were travelling along the same path. That is, until Rhys started working for a jealous chef and got blacklisted in the culinary world of New York City. They move to Boston, Cal using his inheritance to purchase a restaurant for Rhys to get a fresh start. Cal’s biggest challenge is figuring out how to balance work and Rhys. Struggling to make the right choices, will Cal figure out how to accomplish both things without hurting the man he loves?

Review: Cal and Rhys lived in New York, where Cal was building a following as a contractor and Rhys worked as a chef. Unfortunately, Rhys was blacklisted by his former boss and faces being unable to do what he loves. In steps Cal, to suggest they move to Boston, where Cal will build Rhys a restaurant where he can flourish and they can be happy.

Off to Boston they move, and Rhys doesn’t work while the restaurant is being built (using money from Cal’s inheritance), although Cal does ask him to help, to pitch in and Rhys doesn’t want to. Rhys then turns it on Cal, making it seem Cal wants to be away from him, etc. It was frustrating.

I think I’m in the minority that while I thought Deb was a good friend to Rhys, I didn’t feel she was a good friend to both of them, if that makes sense.

For me, the blurb was a little misleading because while yes, Cal got engrossed in his projects, it was for the man he loves more than anything in his life. So I never felt he was hurting Rhys. I did feel Rhys was being unappreciative. For a bit there, I really didn’t like him.

But as always, there are two sides to the story and once we get to see how Rhys feels, it made more sense. I still never blamed Cal, but at least I could see why Cal would put up with it all. It’s what you do for the one you choose, after all.

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Review: Richard Cawley – The Butterfly Boy

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butterflyAuthor: Richard Cawley
Reviewer: Stephen
Publisher: GMP Publishing
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9781902852171

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Summary:
The Butterfly Boy” marks the debut as a novelist of Richard Cawley, television chef (“Thats Entertaining, Ready Steady Cook” and food writer “The Artful Cook, The New English Cookery, Not Quite Vegetarian”). Reflecting his own peripatetic life, this accomplished tale is rooted in Australia but includes excursions to London, Provence and the Italian riviera. Michael is about to celebrate his fortieth birthday but he is still recovering from the death of his lover of twelve years and his return to Sydneys bars and clubs is at best wary. Whilst having drinks with friends, Michael sees for the first time a tall, skinny and black -clad youth whom he immediately nicknames the butterfly boy. It is a fateful moment – the beginning of an obsession at times idyllic, at times painful, sometimes destructive. And the Butterfly Boy – beautiful, capricious, sexy – propels him into the world of high fashion, art and music as he flits – butterfly like – from admirer to admirer. Vividly evoking the gay social whirl of Sydney, the tranquillity of a small Provencal town and the excesses of riviera life, Richard Cawley has created a lushly romantic novel peopled by a clutch of unforgettable characters who remain with the reader long after his tale has been told.
Review:
Michael is an Aussie man whose long-time lover David has died. Michael is now turning forty and his closest friends have decided to throw him a birthday party. At the bar where his friends have met to plan the party, Michael meets a young man whose real name we never learn. He’s simply “the boy” or “the butterfly boy.”

This is definitely a book for a more mature reader. It’s reminiscent of Death in Venice with touches of the Ganymede legend (or maybe Nemesis) thrown in.

Michael’s not the first aging gay man who discovers that beautiful young boys are aging queen Kryptonite. Zeus had his Ganymede, Aschenbach had his Tadzio and our Michael has his “butterfly boy.”

Plus, Kryptonite isn’t always deadly. Sometimes it just changes you. Sometimes change is good but the ending here is ambiguous. Sometimes even ambiguity is good but here I needed more of a resolution. I’d have rated this tale more highly if the author had told us a bit more of the ending of this story. Has Michael learned anything? And what of Bruno, and the aging actress? Just as we have responsibility for the people we interact with, an author has some responsibility to his characters. I’d like to have seen some of these loose ends tied up. Even knowing more about Michael’s ex would have made this a more satisfying story for me. Was Michael David’s “butterfly boy?”

Overall, the prose is workman-like and the author does tell us a compelling story but some of the loose ends were a bit troubling for me. Also the pointed omission of the kid’s name sometimes felt like a brilliant device to reduce him to a plot point and at other times felt more like the affectation of a first-time novelist. The storm and it’s effect on the aging actress and her old dog was also a bit too much for me. It felt heavy handed.

I was also a bit disappointed at the quality of the proof-reading. I spotted a number of obvious typos and that’s usually not the case with books from an established press like GMP.

Bottom line: I liked it but I’m in no hurry to read another book like this. I tend to have a taste for lighter fare. Others may find literary value in this that I missed but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Review: Cameron Dane – Brokedown Hearts

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BROKEDOWNAuthor: Cameron Dane
Reviewer: Victoria
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9781623003739

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary:
Ex-con David Joyner returns home knowing he must atone for his past sins. Working at an animal shelter, David keeps his head down, desperate to prove to a hostile town he’s a new man. The one time David looks up, he spots fellow motel dweller Ben, and is terrified by his attraction to the man. David doesn’t want to feel anything. He can only damage what he loves.

On a forced vacation, PI Ben Evans accepts a job to tail a recently released prisoner. What begins as an easy gig turns complicated when Ben, a controlled man, can’t deny the pang of empathy he feels for his subject, David. Ben can’t suppress his gut-deep sexual desires whenever he’s near David either.

Repeatedly crossing paths, David and Ben do their best to fight their growing attraction. When passion explodes, and secrets are revealed, both men have to conquer inner demons in order to accept the others love.

Someone has turned the tables on David, though, stalking him and leaving threatening notes. Will anyone believe David if he tells? And when David’s stalker raises the stakes, can Ben find the man who has become his world in time to save their love?

Review:
Brokedown Hearts is the third book in the Foster Siblings series by Cameron Dane. While this book is part of a series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel with ease.
David Joyner is an ex-con trying to remake his life after it crashed and burned with him ending up in prison, and a mental institution. Finally free of everything he wants to atone for his sins. David comes home to the small town he was raised in when it would have been easier if he moved somewhere else for a fresh start. In addition, David seemed very timid, and I wonder how his life behind bars played into how timid he is now. David continually worries that he will revert to his past behaviors so he tries desperately to stay away from almost everyone.
Ben Evans is a private investigator who is on a forced vacation. Ben is not one to sit around and do nothing for weeks on end, ends up taking a side job. His side job is to follow David and report back to the lover of the man David ended up stalking before ending up in prison. Ben seems like a smart man so I am completely surprised that he ended up falling in love with David.
The connection between Ben and David is intense and just deepens the more time Ben and David spend together. I liked that Ben was able to see beyond the surface of David. He saw how low David’s self-esteem was and wanted to help build it up. The sex scenes were scorching hot.
I found this book well written with a very realistic plot. The main characters and the secondary characters were fascinating. While the ending was a little predictable, the journey the book takes the reader on is gripping with several unexpected twists and turns. Overall, this was a captivating book.

Review: Andrew Grey – Strengthened by Fire Audio Edition

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strenghtAuthor: Andrew Grey
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: N/A

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Cover Artist Anne Cain

Narrator Peter B. Brooke

Length 2 hours and 32 minutes

Summary:
Sequel to Redemption by Fire

Lee Staunton and Dirk Krause have been seeing each other for a couple of months when they get the bad news: the firehouse they work at will be closed unless they can come up with the money to complete some maintenance and repairs. The union wants to stand and fight. There’s just one problem: the only suggestion for how to raise the money is Lee’s. And Dirk hates it.

Unfortunately, everyone else thinks Lee’s “Chicken and Beefcake” dinner—which they’ll attend in just their hats, boots, and fire pants—is a great idea, and Lee goes ahead with the organizing. But interference from the borough council and low ticket sales threaten to rain on Lee’s parade. If Dirk can’t put aside his pride and stubborn nature for one night, it could cost both him and Lee their jobs—never mind their relationship.
Review:
When Lee and Dirk find out that the firehouse where they work is one that may be closed due to their city council’s budget cuts, it’s Lee who comes up with a great idea to raise money for much-needed building maintenance and repairs, or so he thinks. Dirk, on the other hand, hates the idea and makes his opinion very well known to his lover.

The course of true love never runs smooth and these two alpha males were bound to clash. When Lee announces his idea of turning their fund-raising Chicken Dinner into a Chicken and Beefcake Dinner, Dirk sees red. He thinks it’s ridiculous to expect him and their co-workers to walk around in nothing more than their fire pants (with suspenders!), boots, and helmet, though he doesn’t realize that he’s actually Lee’s inspiration for the idea. Despite Dirk’s objections, Lee is pressed into service by his captain and works with others to get the event organized and off the ground.

After watching it all happening around him, and wanting to show support for the guy he loves, Dirk shows up at the city council meeting where Lee and his captain are trying to explain their fundraising efforts, and he accuses council of breaking Historical Society regulations by attempting to shut down their firehouse, the oldest in the city, and possibly even in the state. Though the support is appreciated, Dirk may have made matters worse.

The night of the event, when it looks like it might actually be a success, and Lee is going crazy with trying to juggle all of the things he has to do, Dirk shows up to lend a hand, and to show the man he loves just how much he really loves him.

I really enjoyed this story. It’s not heavy—it’s fun, and hot, and gives us a good look at the developing relationship between Lee and Dirk. Plus, it has a surprise happy ending that makes me look forward to the next book in the series.

Fans of Andrew Grey will like this one, and narrator Peter B. Brooke did a great job with the multiple voices in this one, which included a female firefighter. As I did in the previous audiobook, I love the deep, raspy voice he gives to Dirk. If you’re crazy about hot firemen in love put this one on your list.

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Review: Renae Kaye – Shearing Gun

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shearingAuthor: Renae Kaye
Reviewer: Vivian
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9781632160461

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Summary:
At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.

Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for anything permanent. As if the constant threat of being caught isn’t enough, Elliot’s contract runs out after only a year.
Review:
Love on the range.

Actually, the marginally populated, farmlands of western Australia. Sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. Gotta like sheep to like this story. Nice crash course tutorial on sheep farming. There’s lingo and 4/5 of the action revolves around the life of a rural rancher/farmer.

Hank’s a nice guy, focused, skilled and favorably disposed. Actually he’s sex on legs and his romps to the city to find action prove that real fast. Impossible not to like him. Might want to shake him at times, but a lovable lad.

Elliot is our government-sponsored doctor to the rural region of D…. yeah, sounds really odd, good for a chuckle, but no one’s honestly gonna learn how to spell it. Elliot’s the proverbial fish out of water, though well-intentioned and earnest. He’s flummoxed by his newest patient. Cue embarrassing moment.

Now we’ve got our heroes. We’ve got the setting and the macho, homophobic leanings of the residents. We’ve got sheep. Seriously, sheep is a big thing. So, what’s one sex-on-the-back-burner and one hiding-in-the-closet to do?

Paul’s the only one with any sense. And Middy. And Doc. And… you see where this is going. Hank is an idiot. Totally get it, but let’s me honest. The boy missed out on life. Glad he wasn’t stupid enough to let Elliot go.

There’s drama, but the resolution to the their problem isn’t one of them. It is a corollary to it. The joy in this read is the teasing, good humor of Hank and the inherent sweetness of Elliot and how they dance around their desires and then meet them head on. Pretty angst-free romance read.

Overall, sweet tale of country boys’ loving.

Favorite quote:

That was the problem with screwing a guy with higher intelligence. They had so much brain matter that they could do two things at once.

 

Review: Sean Michael – Underground: Special Teams

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specialAuthor: Sean Michael
Reviewer: Wendy
Publisher: Torquere
Genre: BDSM Cops
ISBN:9781610408073

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Summary:
When Hunter Simms goes undercover at an underground BDSM party, the last thing he expects to see is SWAT’s leading shooter Keifer Magnessen bound, gagged, plugged and very bare. He is immediately drawn to Keifer, and wants to get to know his fellow cop better. Much better.

With such a high stress job, Keifer needs to give up control on his down time in order to decompress, but it’s a secret he holds close to his vest. So, when Hunter walks into his chosen place to submit, he tries to cut and run. Lucky for him, Hunter is shrewd, persistent and quite possibly just the Dom that Keifer needs.

Can these two strong men find a way to make their personal lives mesh?
Review:
While it’s true that opposites attract, there’s also something to be said for sharing common ground in a relationship, and that’s exactly what Hunter (a detective) and Kiefer (a SWAT sniper) have is the shared knowledge of what goes on in their high stress professional lives in law enforcement. Even better, they have the whole opposites thing going for them too in a yin and yang kind of way because Hunter is a Dom and Kiefer is a sub who definitely needs a committed Dom that understands his situation and can give him things he didn’t even realize he needed or desired.

This book pretty much delivered what I expected going into it, and that makes it a bit of a comfort read for me. That being said, I think it also had a bit more substance than anticipated – a little more plot and dialogue that wasn’t primarily single words. On the other hand, I also had a couple of niggles. I was bothered by the slip of a name change for one of the characters early in the book, and I couldn’t stop wondering if it’s physically possible for a guy to get fully dressed and drive home while still having a sound plugging him? I’m feeling a little skeptical on that one.

I would have enjoyed seeing the original storyline (tracking down allegations of subs being abused in some underground BDSM group) play out throughout the book vs. tapering off as soon as Hunter and Kiefer meet at the BDSM party and Hunter determines things are on the up and up with this particular group. As usual, I enjoyed the sizzling sex scenes and kinky action (yeah, did I mention comfort read…). I also really enjoyed the slow progression of emotional trust between these guys – for Hunter to continue to demonstrate his determination and desire for Kiefer to be cherished and looked after, and for Kiefer to come to the realization that he deserved someone who could be solely focused on him. I think other Sean Michael fans will enjoy this one!

Guest post, tour and Contest: An UncommonWhore 3: Prince of Faith by Belinda McBride

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 Do you think in present times a prince could be enslaved in a whorehouse? How would we get him out?

You know, initially I was going to say “no” but the more I think about it, the more I think that what Helios experienced could indeed happen in present times.
We live in a small world, given technology and communications, but at the same time, so many countries and regions are essentially off the grid. Think about North Korea, for example. Years ago, Kim Jong-il of North Korea not only kidnapped a dozen Japanese citizens as “cultural consultants,” he also kidnapped a popular Chinese actress and then ambushed her ex-husband, who was a movie director. They were compelled to make some truly terrible movies, and even forced to re-marry. Their ordeal lasted nearly a decade and they escaped by fleeing to the American Embassy in Venice.
We also live in a time when human trafficking, sexual slavery and forced labor are rampant. It is entirely conceivable to me that a kidnapped prince could be lost within such a system.
I imagine there would be grand, complex rescue missions put into place by various world governments. There would be satellite surveillance, computer hackers would try to break systems and special forces would be deployed. At the end of the day, it would probably be a rescue scenario not unlike what happens in An Uncommon Whore. It would be a combination of luck, planning and courage that would rescue our prince. Perhaps an alert citizen would spot him, or a single courageous police officer would face down impossible odds to rescue him. Maybe our lost prince would initiate his own rescue, or he’d escape on his own.
The possibilities are endless, aren’t they? This all makes me want to write a new book for Helios and Griffin…

BM_UW3_princeoffaith_coverin_1Blurb: 

Held captive in a whorehouse, Markus Dayspring wakes every morning with a thirst for revenge, and collapses every night with a prayer for strength. He lives on in spite of deadly addictions and a crippling, shameful secret. When he’s rescued by a man from his past, his reawakened love threatens to crush his damaged soul.

Caius also has a secret, one that could ultimately kill him. But his vow to rescue Markus is stronger than guilt, fear and even his loyalty to King Helios. Too many have died because of Caius and rescuing the missing prince might allow him to sleep without nightmares.

Old habits are hard to break and new pain threatens their growing love. Yet one gleaming ray of hope continues to guide them to safety, even in the face of an unexpected violation of trust. With the stakes growing higher by the hour, Markus and Caius must learn to have faith before they can heal and face the future together.

Categories: Fantasy, M/M Romance, Romance, Science Fiction

Excerpt:

The next time I see Griffin Hawke, I’m going to kick his stubborn ass from one end of the galaxy to the other.

The refrain ran through his head, day in and day out. For how long now? Markus Dayspring wasn’t certain. Over a year, surely. Longer, given the events that had transpired since Griffin Hawke had shanghaied him into the service of the skeezy bastard, U’shma. Once the shock of the assault wore off and Markus recovered a degree of lucidity, he remembered the other man he’d glimpsed, a beautiful face gazing down at him in horror. Betrayal.

It was Helios staring at him without a trace of recognition on his face.

Gone was the choppy hair and ruggedly handsome face, so similar to Markus’s own. They’d looked so similar they’d often been mistaken for brothers rather than cousins. This new Helios wore the gowns of a whore of Warlan, his copper-red hair hanging to his hips, his gray eyes lined with tattoos. In all, he hadn’t looked bad. He’d been spared most of the hardware that decorated a sex slave. Markus had caught a glimpse of Helios Dayspring before falling under Griffin’s blows. Those few seconds still had the power to chill him to the heart.

In spite of the fury, the frustration of being betrayed, Markus took comfort in the knowledge of Helios’s safety. While Grif played a deep game, Markus had as well, hiding the intelligence he’d gathered during their travels together. That information ultimately pointed to Warlan and their missing king. In spite of everything, the gruff bodyguard would never let harm come to Helios. The knowledge allowed him to focus on his own plight, and how to escape. So far no strokes of luck or genius had come to his rescue. So he languished here, day after day, bound hand and foot to a ridiculously comfortable bed.

Things could always be worse.

The door unlocked and creaked open; Markus automatically tested the deceptively light chains holding his wrists in place. His jaw went tight, already fighting the battle he faced. His heart pounded, and his breathing accelerated in fury. In anticipation. In shame.

A wizened old creature shuffled into the room, bearing a heavy tray in her bent, twisted hands. She grinned toothlessly. She’d once told Markus her teeth had been knocked out when she’d accidently clipped a customer during a blowjob. To her delight, the missing teeth made her job much easier.

He figured she must work in the dark. He couldn’t imagine anyone paying for her company.

She kicked the door closed, set the tray on a table, and turned to him. “You got a big night ahead, Your Highness. Boss wants you fed and prepped.” She double-checked his bindings, making an occasional adjustment. “We’ve moved outside coalition space. First day orbiting a new settlement. You’re in for a ride.” Her Common was fluent enough, though heavily accented. Of course, that could have been the missing teeth.

Her gnarled hands wandered his body in a rude exam, searching for weapons or anything he could use to injure a client. She slipped a hand into the cloth covering his groin, pinching a testicle. He gasped and writhed, and she cackled her amusement.

“Guess the last dose wore off.”

His heart dropped.

“Don’t. I can function without it.” He broke out in a cold sweat, and he wasn’t sure if need or dread caused his skin to prickle. The hag loosened his chains, using a single anchored length to guide his movements. Stiffly, he rose from the bed, eyeing her balefully. She was old, decrepit, and the most evil being he’d met in his life. No, she was the employee of the most evil person ever. The hag was merely his tool. That didn’t excuse the woman’s crimes against him. She was a beast.

With a jerk on the line, she guided him to the tiny toilet. A hiss of vapor released in his face, and he coughed, bracing himself for pain.

“Do your business.”

On command, his gut cramped. He pushed the loincloth to the side and collapsed onto the toilet, his intestines gripping like ropes of concrete. He groaned, hating the drugs, hating the old woman…hating everything. Everyone. Through pain-hazed vision he glared at her until the ordeal was completed.

She jangled the chain. “Get in the shower.”

Slowly he obeyed, flinching against the harsh, tearing scream of the poorly functioning sonic unit. If it’d been water, she’d force him to strip fully naked before her greedy gaze. She’d seen him naked many times before, but it didn’t matter. When there was so little dignity left in life, Markus held desperately to what he could.

He stepped out of the unit on trembling legs, cold sweat blossoming over his skin. He clenched his fist in fury. He could easily break away and kill the woman, but the price would be too steep. The time to escape would eventually come, but not now. She was ready for him. He’d learned the lesson in the harshest manner possible and wasn’t prepared to face the consequences again. There was a reason the hag had grown old in her dangerous profession. He ground his teeth, reluctantly taking his position on the bed. He carefully arranged a fold of fabric over his groin.

Ludicrous.

“Drink up.” She shoved a battered tin at him, and Markus looked at it with suspicion. He sniffed cautiously. After all this time, he still didn’t know what they were dosing him with. “It’s water. You humans need it. Scans say you’re too dry.”

With a prayer he gulped it down, choking, but loath to waste a drop. A minute passed, and another while she worked at his restraints. He felt unaffected and began to relax.

Shit. Relaxed. The goose bumps faded, and his body went warm with euphoria. In panic, he jerked the chains, too late to break away.

“Fuck!” he shouted.

“Open up.” She dangled some unidentifiable morsel in front of his mouth, and then pulled her hand away as Markus bit savagely. He chewed, glaring at her the entire time. He swallowed, and the feeding proceeded. “You’re lookin’ a little sleepy. How you feelin’?”

He didn’t answer. She was vanishing behind a blissful haze. He fought to hold on to his anger.

“You’re gettin’ sleepy. Can’t have that.” She floated through his vision, across the room, and then suddenly back in his face. Before Markus could react, his jaw was trapped in her shockingly strong grip, and a wand was cruelly inserted into a nostril. He flinched, but already the pungent, musky fumes overpowered him.

His erection was instantaneous. He howled in anger, fury. Pain. Fire licked his body, starting deep in his pelvis, reaching out to consume his cock and balls, his belly and chest. It burned from the inside right out to the skin, and his vision went red. His hips thrust uselessly, and Markus was fairly certain he begged for mercy. For relief.

For death.

The old woman laughed.

* * * *

Caius gazed at himself in the hotel mirror, noting the weariness he felt did not show on his face. It was there in the slight droop to his shoulders, in the sluggish movement of his body, but his false face wore the same placid, dour expression as always. With a sigh, he turned to the rickety worktable and opened his comm unit, journaling the activities of his day, and then sent the report to King Helios.

He’d been on the brothel barge Paradise for a week, following leads on a prostitute billed as the Royal Concubine. The term prostitute might be misleading; most of the whores on this ship were serving prison sentences for debt or theft. Others were undoubtedly slaves, their paperwork forged. The operation was shady at best, and always under coalition investigation.

Problem was, barges were vast, heavily armed, and continually in motion. A simple, effective intelligence network greased their way, paying copious bribes and hush money as a barge visited systems in seemingly random fashion. By the time Interstellar Coalition Enforcement could respond to its presence, the barge would be long gone, into another sector, or out of coalition territory completely. Right now, the Paradise was on the wrong side of the frontier. No law existed but the rules on the barge. If he screwed up, his stay on the Paradise might wind up a long-term engagement.

At the end of his personal report, Caius flashed-scanned a handbill, saving it to his journal. He shut down the unit, then sat on the bed, looking through the curtained window down onto the street.

Like all other brothel barges he’d searched, the Paradise was massive, the size of a large city. He’d sectioned it off, walking all day, gathering handbills, listening to panderers pitch their products. He feigned interest in drug-addicted Valorans and serpent-tongued Tohrc. He grinned lewdly at humans in all their varied forms. All the while he searched for one specific man. If he asked openly, suspicion would close mouths, and he’d find himself standing alone on the street, shut out completely. So he played the game, posing as a lust-addled tourist taking a hard-earned vacation.

Caius lay back and rested his head on the pillow, holding the yellow handbill up in front of his face. It was crudely drawn, portraying a bejeweled man in a crown. He was nude, his enormous cock erect and studded with golden loops. Simple sketched lines illustrated long hair falling in waves past his shoulders.

He looked frighteningly similar to King Helios, which was undoubtedly the intention of the advertisement. The king was a celebrity throughout the coalition, and Caius had tracked numerous pretenders capitalizing on the popularity of Helios Dayspring.

He let the paper slip from his fingers. Time was running out. If Markus Dayspring was indeed alive, he wouldn’t be for much longer. Caius had followed his tempestuous trail from Warlan out to the brothel barges. The prince fought and battled every man or woman foolish enough to purchase him. Needless to say, Helios’s owner U’shma hadn’t kept Markus more than a few days. He couldn’t cook. He wouldn’t whore for the big Morgaise. He couldn’t be beaten into submission. He also had a nasty tendency to attack his owner.

Poor U’shma was now making do with himself for company. If he was still alive. He’d angered some very important people back there on Warlan.

The king’s cousin had moved from household slavery to scat mines and then on to whorehouses, never lasting long without leaving mayhem in his path. He’d finally ended up with a broker who placed slaves on brothel barges. From there, the trail had vanished.

Caius rubbed at his temple, trying to soothe the headache that never quite went away. With a trembling hand, he fumbled at the small box mounted on his belt, pausing to command the lights down before summoning the courage to disengage the holo-disguise.

The sudden silence in his brain was so abrupt he nearly bolted from the bed. He lay staring into the darkness, counting off the seconds. Last night, he’d made seven minutes without the unit. He was aiming for ten tonight. Or maybe fifteen.

When he reached three, his mouth was open, and he panted, partly in discomfort, partly in panic. At five minutes, small animal noises rose from his throat. His hand hovered over the box while his heart raced.

General Hawke had extracted a promise from him. He’d objected to sending Caius on this mission until King Helios stepped in, avowing his faith in Caius. Carlotta had been there too, her dark eyes bright in pain…and trust. It was because of her unquestioning faith that he persisted in the gradual withdrawals. Every night he had to turn the box off. Every night he had to increase the time in his own skin. Eventually, he’d destroy the damned unit, but right now the very thought unnerved him.

Ten minutes passed, and he dredged up the words he’d spoken to the general—his solemn vow. At fourteen minutes, he’d doubled the previous night’s time, and with a sense of elation, he kept going. The headache moved from a dull throb to a brilliant point of pain that dazzled his eyes, yet he bore it. The day was too far gone for him to keep looking for Markus, though the bars and whorehouses operated around the clock. He needed downtime, so he could rest and plan.

Unable to bear any more, he gasped, jerked, and slapped at the unit, collapsing onto his back as the nearly imperceptible hiss of the holo-disguise engaged. He held his hands in front of his streaming eyes, watching as they once again morphed into the large, blunt-fingered fists of Caius, complete with a white scar over his knuckles on his left hand.

He panted and groaned, perversely amused at the noise he made. Agony sounded rather like sex.

He shoved his knuckles into his eyes. His stomach lurched with the intensity of the migraine. He could take medication to dim the knife-edged agony, but pain was his penance. It was the price he paid for the box he wore on his hip and for the illusion that cloaked his body. It was the price a man paid for pretending to be other than what he really was.

Caius touched his skin, feeling wet tears on his cheeks. He trailed the tips of his fingers over his face, touching the features he’d come to hate. To fear. The mirror in the bathroom reflected Caius, with his blunt face and sandy hair and pale blue eyes. His fingers told him a whole different truth.

He rolled to his side in a fetal position, breathing through the pain. Soon enough he’d have to take something; he couldn’t afford to give too much time to the headache. But for now, he embraced his penance, falling into the brilliant lights and hypnotic agony, and eventually into darkness.

Belinda McBride Bio:

Belinda is an award-winning, top selling author of erotic romance, speculative fiction and LGBTQ romance. She lives in far Northern California with her family and a pack of Siberian Huskies.

 

A graduate of CSU Chico, she managed to attend the notorious party school without once getting drunk, arrested or appearing in a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Her main focus of study was classical and archival history, cultural anthropology and theatre arts.

 

After several years in the workforce. Belinda purchased a laptop computer and from there, knew that her childhood dream of being an author would come to life.

 

Belinda’s books are available at all the typical distributors as well as on the publisher’s homepages.

 

Author Contact:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Belinda-McBride/49209583129?ref=bookmarks

@Belinda_McBride

Publisher: Loose ID

Cover Artist: PL Nunn

Tour Dates/Stops:

10/21: Rainbow Gold Reviews, Sinfully Sexy

10/22: Multitasking Mommas, Kimi-Chan

10/23: Prism Book Alliance, Cathy Brockman Romances

10/24: Hearts on Fire, SA McAuley

10/27: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Tara Lain

10/28: Wake Up Your Wild Side, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Carly’s Book Reviews

10/29: Jade Crystal, EE Montgomery

10/30: Amanda C. Stone, The Novel Approach

10/31: The Hat Party, Romance the Night

11/3: MM Good Book Reviews, The Blogger Girls, Fallen Angel Reviews

11/4: Love Bytes, Angel Martinez

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Review: Sandrine Gasq-Dion – A Working Man

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workingAuthor: Sandrine Gasq-Dion
Reviewer: Wendy
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9781925180497

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary:
Matthew Hawke’s professional life is soaring as high the powerful bird of prey whose image is inked on his back. He’s at the top of his game as the owner of an advertising agency that is scooping up prime accounts like a mighty hawk wrapping its talons around an unfortunate ground rodent. Yes, work is good. Too bad his love life has more in common with the dying rodent than the triumphant hawk. When the thought of a sexy man trumps actually being with a sexy woman, Matthew thinks it might be time for a change. And there IS a gorgeous man at the gym he’s noticed.

Drakon Mavros is working his shapely ass off to make ends meet. His administrative assistant job at a messenger service is steady, but the money he gets from his more creative job pays most of the bills. An ex-boyfriend took his confidence, his trust and his self-esteem and Drakon is afraid to take another chance at love. When an adorably goofy man at his gym actually hurts himself trying to flirt with him, Drakon can’t resist falling under Matt’s spell. He makes Drakon feel good about himself again and praises his artistic talent – neither of which his ex ever did.

As the men begin to fall for one another, it appears nothing can go wrong – they seem to be soul mates. Secrets and lies can crack even the firmest foundation, though. It takes a true master to shore it up so that it never crumbles. Is love the mortar that can restore trust and faith and bind men forever? Only time will tell. Can Drakon and Matt take that chance?
Review:
For those who love cute, quirky and perhaps a little over the top, this story will hit a sweet spot. Matthew Hawke is an interesting combination of powerful and confident in his professional life, but awkward and striking out in his love life. To top things off, he can’t seem to get enthused enough to perform the deed with his regular gal pal, but the cute guy at the gym? Let’s just say that “little Matthew” quite likes the idea of getting up close and personal with him even though “big Matthew” may still be reeling a bit from the abrupt change of allegiance. And if that weren’t enough, there’s the sexy male voice on the other side of the phone that he dialed by accident. That voice and the person behind it feel like the first actual connection Matthew has made in quite a long time.

What to do, what to do? When Matthew makes a fool of himself by quite literally running off the treadmill while attempting to flirt with the cute gym guy (Drakon), he struggles with what to do. Should he grab what’s in front of him as he and Drakon get to know one another even though he yearns for “Drake”, the virtual man of his dreams?

Just like Matthew, Drakon is an interesting combination of contrasts – unsure when it comes to his true talent, but fairly confident when interacting with other men. The real dilemma for these guys comes down to the fact that Drakon’s ex left him a hot mess who can’t tolerate lies and won’t go near another rich guy. That means that Matthew has to lie about who he really is in order to have an opportunity to get to know Drakon. You can see the train wreck coming, right?

So, let’s review what we have here in case I missed anything. Mr. “I hate lies” meets Mr. Perfect who has to lie in order to even pass Go. Mr. “I can’t get it up for women” is suddenly lusting after not one, but two “different” men. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the purple dildo named Roy (you’ll have to read the story to get any more detail on that bad boy). Sound quirky? Yes, but nothing wrong with a little humor thrown in with the sexy hot stuff! More “Men of Manhattan” please!!

Review: Bey Deckard – Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires (Baal’s Heart, #2)

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bevAuthor: Bey Deckard
Reviewer: SheReadsAlot
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Genre: M/M Fantasy
ISBN: 9780993701757

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:
Reunited once more, the crew of Baal’s Heart must make the long and treacherous journey south to the towering spires of the Devil’s Isles. The path through the mountain range is fraught with peril; mayhem and tragedy plague the pirate ship, but what the men find beyond the spires is the most shocking of all.

In this sequel to the acclaimed Caged, the pirates are dragged into a dangerous new world by Captain Baltsaros’s all-consuming obsession. In the midst of terror and chaos, Jon learns that the captain and first mate have been keeping secrets from him. But will the truth tear them apart?
Review:
I don’t know how to convey my joy that is in my marrow for “Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires”, book # 2 of the Baal’s Heart series. Forget that I thoroughly love pirates. Forget that a hero with a damaged heart, mind and/or soul will always call to me.

The words.

These words from this story are filled with so much heart, passion and love of well fleshed out characters, I can’t not rave about them. When an excellent, well plotted story is delivered like this one, I always get a loss of words. I could discuss the book all day. I would rant and rave about the characters for days. Fan girl gush: There was dirty talk with a few of my favorite words in a scene!
“Does it occur to you that maybe you’ve burned me out? That I no longer care whether what you spout is truth or lie?”
The second book in the trilogy is hands down one of my top five reads of the year. And surprise, surprise, so is its predecessor, Caged. (See the review of book #1, in case your interested – it is not suggested for you to read out of order) This is a book that will not be for everyone, it’s dark. Darker than book #1 and if you’re put off by kink [breath play, blood play, wax play, mind fuckery] or have triggers: attempted rape and violence, then I wouldn’t suggest this.

Bey Deckard has written quite the follow up to one of the best triads I’ve ever read. Jon, the empath virgin who was alone for most his life, Tom, the damaged first hand that is quick with a fist and Baltsaros, the evil captain that can’t help being possessive of his boys. This is how I picture a triangle to be, there are intimacies between the three and sometimes a branch of two men, jealousies and a bond that can’t be denied.
“Yes, fine. Savvy,” she muttered.
“Aw lovey, yer a fine-lookin’ woman, it’s not that,” Tom said apologetically. “All jokin’ aside, if it ain’t the captain, or it ain’t Jon…” He shrugged again. “There just ain’t anyone else.”
Sacrificed could be considered a character study of each main character. I got all that I asked for in my first review and then some:

-more kink (see above)
-keep that adventure coming (this was pirating and fantasy-gasm adventure)
-more info on Baltsaros (we got more info into that dark and devious mind)
-more of Tom (I am floating from the gift, wonder and character that is Tom. Thank you Bey!)

My list has been answered, my kinky pirates have upped the game tenfold. This book was intense. Consider book #1 to be the foundation of an awesome tale, book #2 is crafting the titanium house. The men have grown: Baltsaros is learning to be a human, Tom is learning to open himself for more than Baltsaros and Jon is learning how to be a man (he makes some mistakes but who doesn’t?) The boys aren’t 100% set in their ways as yet, there are fluid parts about them but you can not deny they make each other stronger.
“Tom reached out and let his knuckles graze Jon’s arm, a hidden touch just to ground him for the span of a heartbeat. Maybe Jon would turn a blind eye. Maybe they’d continue to live in denial that they both loved a fucking monster.

Jon smiled at the brief caress, and Tom felt his chest get tight.”
If Caged was more about Jon and Baltsaros, this book is definitely more about Jon and Tom (I so wanted to learn more about this side of the triangle – not disappointed) We travel to beyond the Spires, to a bloodthirsty land with a mystery behind it. The groundwork laid in Caged comes together. The suspense is subtle but intense, the action even more so. I don’t want to spoil all the good parts, so I’ll quit before I spill.

Highly recommended – this is why I read for stories like this. I have high hopes for book #3:

- Tom!
- learning about Baltsaros
- kink
- Tom!

I can’t believe this author started publishing this year, this book is more fine tuned and effortless. I hope there are more stories to come from him and it doesn’t end. *hint hint*

Review: Kyle Adams – New Beginnings

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new beginningsAuthor: Kyle Adams
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: MM Contemporary
ISBN:9781610408172

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Summary: Urban Sinclair thinks he has it all. An amazing life, a nice house he shares with Tyson, his boyfriend of eight years. Urban learns the hard way that life is full of unexpected surprises and people aren’t always as happy as he thinks. Unexpectedly single and heartbroken, Urban knows he can only take it one day at a time. A daunting endeavor while he still shares a house with the man responsible for shattering his heart.

Before Urban can even begin grieving, let alone moving on, Tyson makes a shocking revelation that spins his world around for an extra loop. Can this new surprise show Urban that life isn’t about endings but about making memories and sharing limitless new beginnings?

Review: Let’s put it out there – you have to get past the asshattery that is Tyson in the beginning of this story. I honestly hated his actions when the story started and I was hoping that Urban was going to end up with someone else. But I stuck with it and what I ended up with was a sweet romantic story of an established couple.

As I made comments reading the story, the ones on Tyson are not in any way complimentary, running along the lines of “Leave, Urban!” It is getting past this part, along with Tyson’s admission that maybe part of his plan wasn’t the greatest idea, that helped redeem him, although I still think he wasn’t thinking one bit about the ramifications.

Tyson has come up with an idea that backfires some and then runs full steam ahead. It’s like a trip back in time for this couple as they make their new beginnings. For his part, Urban loves his boyfriend, is devastated, angry and confused; then goes along with what is happening. New beginnings indeed.

On two random notes, I need an explanation – why can’t you drive a monster truck if your dick is big? Second, just a gush to say I absolutely love that Urban sleeps in pink unicorn sleep pants and a matching unicorn top and that Tyson can rock purple hair!

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