Sense of Place (Thomas Elkins Book 3) by NR Walker

sense of placeBlurb

Designing homes is easy. Finding home is something else entirely.

Thomas Elkin and Cooper Jones finally have the support of their families, and their love grows stronger every day. Now living together, they think nothing can stand in their way.

But there are outside influences trying to pull them apart.

Cooper encounters a man, closer to his age and with connections high up the property development chain, who wants Cooper as his own. Tom encounters discrimination and a hidden agenda from a fellow senior partner who’s trying to take him down.

No matter what the world throws at them, Tom and Cooper are the real deal. Age differences aside, Tom has finally found his sense of place. His one true centre, his home.

Review

Tom and Coop have moved in together but it’s not all roses and wine for the couple.
Coop is on a new project that literally takes all his time and patience. Tom has to diverge from his normally not so “in your face” stance and make a stand for himself as Cooper’s lover.

On the family front, Tom’s ex is still not exactly supportive and there are problems on the job as well.

When Tom makes a wild decision that ultimately affects both he and Cooper, it’s Coop’s mother who ultimately gives him the best advice yet as to how to handle Cooper.

**

I ADORED this final installment to the Thomas Elkins series. It was romantic and sweet and sexy.

NR Walker found a way to make us really believe that these guys have what it takes to be a long term couple and not just a hot May/December affair.

The final “sense of place” that they achieve is so well-won and touching… I just loved it.

Because of that last bit, this series remains one of my comfort reads when I want to be immersed in that happy place with the couple who you just know will be together forever.

5 of 5 stars

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

To Buy:

Pride Publishing Presents

https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/sense-of-place

His Hearth (Warders #1) Audiobook by Mary Calmes Narrated by Andrew Schwartz

HisHearthAudBlurb

Julian Nash should be excited: he’s just earned a huge promotion at work and is going out to celebrate. But his happiness fades when he discovers his date cheating on him an hour before. Suddenly alone when everyone knows he’s supposed to have a plus one, Julian is set for a long night until longtime acquaintance Ryan Dean bails him out of the embarrassing situation. During dinner, they discover they have more than just friendship between them: there is mutual admiration and heated attraction. But getting to know Ryan better-and finding a place in his life-will bring Julian surprises and danger he never expected or dreamed existed.

Review

So if you know Mary Calmes’ work, you know that she has this penchant for giving us these guys who are super awesome but don’t know it. That’s Julian. He’s hot, pulled together, sweet but tough, warm-hearted, forgiving, fantastic in bed and (of course) totally unappreciated and somewhat clueless.

Then we have Ryan. Ryan is a super-hero. He fights demons and all other sorts of bad creatures that go bump in the night. But… he also has a day job and in this case it’s doing a morning show as a talk personality. He’s also super hot, kinda quirky, a little insecure, and great at anything he puts his mind to.

The story of the Warders is this: there are a group of Warders for a given area who protect the people from the bad guys. They have some “powers” but are also well trained. Something about them drains the life force from their lovers unless their lover happens to be their “hearth”. In that case the “hearth” is their perfect mate, able to be the home they need when not fighting against evil, a place for them to rejuvenate and relax. They all want to find their hearth, but they have to be careful in their search because the process damages each lover unless they are the hearth.

Ryan believes Julian is his hearth, but he’s not sure and he can’t risk it. Up until the story begins Julian is involved with someone anyway, so it’s a moot point.

When Julian gets thrown over, Ryan is there to help him out and acts as his date. The mutual attraction between them is combustible and Ryan decides to test if Julian might be his hearth.

Luckily – he is! Now Ryan must introduce Julian to his world and in the meantime fight off the bad guys that have already found him

**

I love this series! It is fun and moves quickly. Each book has a different Warder but sort of takes place sequentially so you can read them separately but reading them in order gives you the most flavor.

Julian and Ryan are hot together and the magic and the action are fun and breath-taking. The huge payout is that once they realize who they are to one another there is lots and lots of sentimentality and lovey ooey goodness.

5 of 5 stars

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Audio
Boy I hate to do this. I love this series but I despise the narrator. Not all the books are narrated by the same guy (thank goodness!) but in this case we get Andrew Schwartz. I could tolerate his narration if he didn’t talk so fast. It made me feel like he didn’t breathe and I could feel the lack of oxygen right along with him.
If you can get past the quick pace, he does an okay job with the story telling. He doesn’t do much to change the voices or do much acting in terms of performing the story, but he’s okay.

2.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

 

To buy

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2783

Bent Arrow by Posy Roberts (Review)

bent arrowBlurb

Sometimes curves in the road take you right where you belong.

Luther Almond’s life working the Bakken oil field is perfect—short-lived jobs, temporary housing, and easy hookups. That’s one reason he won’t move home when he inherits the lake house. When Erik Heat bends over to fix Luther’s pipes, his tattoos hint he might be up for more than working on the drain. The last thing Luther expects is to want more from this guy than one night.

Every time they’re together, Luther is more grounded and Erik more confident. When the lake house demands attention, Luther asks for Erik’s help. There he imagines a more permanent life, one where he stops running. But he wants Erik by his side. Can he find the courage—and the words—to ask?

Review

Luther ran away from his small town living when he realized that being gay and living in rural North Dakota weren’t really compatible.

He’s led a nomadic life, following the jobs and the money until time and opportunity have led him back to his home state and the oil fields. While there he meets Erik, a quiet plumber, also from rural North Dakota.

The tattoo of an arrow leads Luther to ask pointed questions and Erik’s blush lets him know that an approach of the sexy kind might be appreciated.

The two start off slow. Luther works 70-100 hours a week and Erik’s need for keeping things quiet is mirrored by Luther’s own life in the closet. But… as time marches on… Luther finds that he misses Erik when he can’t be around him – and not just because it’s the best sex he’s ever had.

Another ripple on the water is the fact that Luther’s grandmother has left him a house in his home town – a place Luther isn’t ready to settle into. It’s full of problems and Erik is more than willing to spend time up there with Luther fixing things.

When Luther gets let go suddenly, he has to face some hard truths. He might be ready to finally settle down, he definitely doesn’t want to lose Erik, but is he ready to tell the world his secrets?

**

This is a pretty short novella, but it is amazingly sweet and full of details. Through texting and a few meetings Erik and Luther grow ever closer and though we don’t have a lot of on page interaction, Posy Roberts handles the passing of time effortlessly.  Her writing is crisp, clean and lovely.

It never felt rushed and the love really did seem to grow and blossom organically, over time.

I loved where the story led us and enjoyed these two guys as MCs. They were stoic and simple but sweet and romantic. And… let’s face it… the smexy times were hot, too!

I highly recommend this story to fans of quiet, stoic men with poetic hearts and lovers of stories with happy endings.

(And YOWZA isn’t the cover awesome!)

5 of 5 stars

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(Copy provider by the publisher for review)

Labyrinth bound press presents:

http://www.amazon.com/Bent-Arrow-Posy-Roberts-ebook/dp/B0140AA17W/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1440802142&sr=8-7&keywords=posy+roberts

Available September 3 from Amazon

Static by LA Witt

Static_500x750Blurb
After two years together, Alex has been dreading the inevitable moment when Damon learns the truth: that Alex is a shifter, part of a small percentage of the population able to switch genders at will. Thanks to a forced implant, though, Alex is suddenly static—unable to shift—and male. Overnight, he’s out to a world that neither understands nor tolerates shifters . . . and to his heterosexual boyfriend.
Damon is stunned to discover his girlfriend is a shifter, and scared to death of the dangers the implant poses to Alex’s health. He refuses to abandon Alex, but what about their relationship? Damon is straight, and with the implant both costly and dangerous to remove, Alex is stuck as a man.
Stripped of half his identity and facing serious physical and social ramifications, Alex needs Damon more than ever, but he doesn’t see how they can get through this.
Especially if he’s static forever.
Review

WOW!

This ranks as one of my all time favorite books in this genre.
I can’t say enough good things about this – but I’ll try!

First – it’s sort of a unique shifter book. Instead of shifting into animals, in this world that LA Witt has created, some people can change their sex at will. Not just the important pieces, but their entire bodies. So they become more masculine, larger, muscular, etcetera for male and smaller, more delicate, etcetera for female. But like fraternal twins, they still retain that look about them so you can see the resemblance.

In this case Alex (both female and male version) is dating Damon as a woman. Damon doesn’t know about the male Alex and this causes a lot of worry as to how to go about telling him. The point becomes moot when Alex’s parents decide to force her to stay permanently male, or “static” by injecting an evil chip into her spine. Of course they have no knowledge of Alex’s female love-life, only a desire to have a son and NOT to have someone who can shift genders.

There is the possibility of removing the chip but it has the potential for disaster, paralysis, death, dismemberment – ok not really – but also continuing the static state. Some people choose this treatment voluntarily but not Alex. S/he has always enjoyed the huge freedom allowed by being able to be one then the other gender. And since she thinks she may be in love with her straight boyfriend, being stuck as a man is particularly harsh.

But… the time comes when Alex must show Damon the truth of the situation. And here is where things really get to be interesting on both a plot level and a sociological level. (This is what makes this book spectacular IMHO – the bringing in so flawlessly the social construct of gender identity and the breakdown of what it means to be woman or man – especially when – in this case – it’s the same person wearing a different “skin”.)

Damon really does care for – maybe even love Alex – so he’s willing to at least try to work through this crisis and see it through. He doesn’t know what he wants. For Alex to go through with the reversal surgery? To try to be with a man when he’s only ever identified as straight? To give up and let Alex do this alone? But no, he’s an amazing person and sticks with it.

The story is so full of social questions. There’s prejudice. There’s the discussion of what if feels like to be in the “wrong body”. There’s the gay/straight/person centric version of sexual attraction. There’s – Gah! So much!

In the end the two lovers must make a decision. Should Alex attempt the surgery and is the risk worth it.

I won’t tell you the final decision but it is thought provoking – to say the least.

LA Witt won some awards for this – as she should have – and I can see why. It’s so amazing, her ability to hit you with these social question while still weaving a beautiful and touching and sometimes erotic love story. Superb!

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lambda finalist

 

 

 

If you have any interest in transgender and gender fluidity or gender ID this is right up your alley. It also fulfills something for those GFY fans. But it’s still, at it’s heart, a love story and a story of knowing one’s heart – so truly, any fan of romance will be entranced.

I can’t recommend it highly enough!

6 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for review

To Buy

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/static

Finding the Way Home by Sean Michael

FindingWayHomeBlurb

When he arrives home from a long stint in the hospital after losing his right arm to an IED blast, Sergeant James Miller certainly doesn’t expect his keys not to work and a strange man answering his door, only to learn his boyfriend has dumped him. Yet that’s exactly what happens, and James is just happy that he can count on his old platoon buddy to have his back, and a spare bedroom he can use until he gets on his feet.
Horace Grundy the third—“Horse” to anyone who doesn’t want to get his butt kicked—is retired and has a tidy house on the beach that he calls home. The place isn’t big, but he figures there is plenty of room for James, even if he has always fancied the man.
Thankfully, the two of them fit together well, and soon the roommates become more. But James’s past isn’t ready to let go of him yet, and the new lovers are caught off-guard when James’s ex-boyfriend suddenly reappears in his life. Can James and Horse’s new relationship weather the storm?

Review

This is a lovely short story about James “Jimmy” Miller who gets back from the War with an amputation only to find his boyfriend of seven years has left him for a doctor.

He calls on his Army buddy, Horace “Horse” Grundy for a place to crash. Horse, who has always had a crush on Jimmy, readily agrees.
There is virtually no angst in this lovely story of two guys re-connecting and then falling in love. Since it’s Sean Michael, there is plenty of hot sex and some tender moments surrounding body acceptance.

At the end there is a bizarre incident with the ex that kind of feels out of place, but it serves as a catalyst to move Jimmy and Horse’s relationship forward as well as give Jimmy some closure, so in the end it works.

I really enjoyed this little story about love and recommend it to fans of the author, military men, disabled vets and hot sex scenes!

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy generously provided by the publisher for review)

Amberquill Presents:

http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/2243-Finding-The-Way-Home.aspx

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

middleBlurb

DANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.

REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.

When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.


Review 

This story was such a wonderful surprise. I have to admit I was completely sold on this book based on the cover. Have you seen the two delectable men on that cover? Phew! I knew I had to read it!

Daniel is a great character. He’s tough, smart, ambitious and funny. All of those wonderful tattoos he has is a bonus! Daniel grew up in Philadelphia with his father and two brothers. They have a family run auto mechanic shop. Daniel has never really felt like he fit in with his brothers. He was always the smart kid into music and school and his brothers take more after their dad and work with him running the shop. His family doesn’t understand him being gay and they don’t really understand his love for English and school. He put himself through years of college with little to no support from his family.

Daniel moves to a small town in Michigan after getting a job at a local college. It’s a very small town where everyone knows everyone and Daniel is a complete city boy. Big adjustment.

Rex is a strong but quiet type of guy. Sort of like a gentle giant. He’s got muscles on top of muscles and he makes his own furniture to earn a living. He’s very good with his hands and really enjoys cooking. He’s a bit of a loner which is due to some tragic events that happened in his past. He has trouble meeting and talking with people. He has a cabin in the woods and he mostly keeps to himself.

I really loved everything about this story.

It’s told in Daniel’s POV which I absolutely loved because you get to know him so well. All of his quirks, his sense of humor, how he thinks and all his insecurities he feels about himself as a person. As someone being capable of loving another.

After finishing the story I would have loved even more if the story was told from Daniel and Rex’s point of view because Rex is just such a big teddy bear and I would have loved being in his head as much as Daniel’s. But I felt all in all that the author did a great job in showing the reader how Rex felt about his “issues”.

I enjoyed falling in love with Rex and Daniel as they slowly fell in love with each other. I absolutely loved Ginger and I really enjoyed the closeness that her and Daniel have. Daniel has a really crappy family who never made him feel as if he mattered. He never felt that his family is proud of all his achievements and his brother Colin is just awful to him. It’s no wonder that Daniel has certain insecurities. I love that he’s a scrapper and a fighter. I love his taste in music and his love of teaching and writing. I think what I liked the most was that every sex scene was written in a way that each scene was brand new…if that makes sense…like it wasn’t the same old same old…each intimate moment was written so erotically with Rex being very tactile and Daniel responding so whole heartedly.

So many things made me laugh out loud…the verbal dialogue between Ginger and Daniel…the fact that an espresso was named after Daniel. There are some really great secondary characters like Leo who is a young guy Daniel meets at a record shop and Rex’s friend Will who only wants to protect Rex from being hurt.

I hope the author gives us a book about Leo and Will. There were some sparks flying with those two. And of course Ginger who is Daniel’s bestest friend and go to person. Daniel’s brother Colin is a complete douche throughout the whole story, but I can see him being redeemed once we learn what his deal is.

The words are so descriptive and I was always “in” the story…I was there while they picked their Christmas tree… I was in their bedroom every time too!! Everything about Rex pushed my buttons…His body for one…I had a lovely time visualizing all those muscles…the fact the he cooks and makes things with his hands…His relationship with his mom…the fact that he moved around all the time and was extremely shy…and poor Jamie…that made my heart break for Rex…He is just such a great guy who wants to take care of Daniel… I want Rex!!

There is a HFN. There are a few things left in the air but not in a bad way. Will Daniel take the job at Temple? Will Colin ever tell Daniel what his deal is? Is there a romance in the cards for Leo and Will? I really enjoyed the realness of the book…and this will most definitely be a re-read for me. (An audio version of this book would be absolutely fantastic…I would love to hear Daniel’s inner thoughts on audio! )

Five stars!!

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Copy Purchased for Review

To Buy

http://www.amazon.com/Middle-Somewhere-Roan-Parrish/dp/1634762126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439962802&sr=8-1&keywords=roan+parrish

Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

DexInBlueAudMEDBlurb

Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies.

Dex’s life is a tangled mess now, but the guys he works with only see the man who makes them believe even porn stars can lead normal lives. When Kane, one of Dex’s coworkers, gets kicked out of his house, the least Dex can do is give him a place to stay. Kane may be a hyperactive muscle-bound psycho, but he’s also a really nice guy. What could be the harm?

Except nothing is simple—not sex, not love, and not the goofy kid with the big dick and bigger heart who moves his life into Dex’s guest room. When they start negotiating fractured pasts and broken friends, Dex wonders if Kane’s honest nature can untangle the sadness that stalled his once-promising future. With Kane by his side, Dex just might be able to reclaim the boy he once was—and if he can do that, he can give Kane the home and the family he deserves.

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(Magnificent FanArt Thanks to Karrie Jax!)

Review
This was one of my very first Amy Lane books – maybe the very first – I forget. But it’s still one of my all time favorite books of hers and of the genre.

In book two we see Dex fighting his own battles. He has had exactly one male lover and is not – yet- convinced he’s gay. He has many luke-warm girlfriends and one of them convinces him to give gay for pay porn a shot. So he does. And it’s like he’s finally able to be himself. He. Loves. It. And he’s good at it.

We are now several years down the line and he’s moved to the production side of things. He’s just dumped his lover because he’s tired of being the booty call on the side when he has feelings involved.
Kane is a simple guy with a big dick. He likes girls but can deal with the “boy sex” if that’s what it takes to give him some control of his life. He’s never been one for school and when his sister’s daughter needs chemo, he steps up to the bat doing the gay for pay thing to help pay the hospital bills.

Dex and Kane end up as roommates when Kane’s sister throws him out of his own house (yeah, it never makes a lot of sense) and Dex needs a shoulder to cry on after dumping the crappy lover.

Because – you know – the porn and all – they give each other comfort in a physical way and suddenly a moment of support has kind of turned into a “thing”.

For Kane – who never really questions things too deeply – the “thing” is comfortable and nice and he wants to keep it. But he doesn’t really do “labels” and he doesn’t really identify as “gay” so how can Dex be his boyfriend?

Dex has been down this road before and can’t do it anymore. When Kane ends up inadvertently flirting with a girl at a holiday party and messing things up more by not understanding why that’s a bad thing in Dex’s world – Dex puts down an ultimatum.

Luckily – Kane finally figures out that “anything that keeps him and Dex in the same bed is a good thing” and he fights for that tooth and nail.

**

This book has it’s fair share of angst. Right off the bat – first chapter, Dex’s lover is killed. OH MAN. That hurt. Lola, the sister, is a super-bitch and keeps Kane from his niece because he’s “dirty”. The ex-lover tries to screw things up as does Johnnie himself. Finally, Dex’s family has to make things really ugly but in the end all the tragedies serve to make Kane and Dex more tightly drawn together.

What I love about this book and what keeps me coming back to it again and again is the love. It’s so clear that these two are made for each other. The feels in this book are tremendous without feeling out of place for two men.

I love that both are sometimes “toppy” and that both lean on the other at one point or another.

The secondary characters are as rich as the MCs and the storyline about the niece and Johnnie and the receptionist… so wonderful without distracting from the main love story.

The sex is scorching hot and the emotions wonderful. I can’t say enough great things about this book!

Audio
Sean Crisden – narrating God that he is – does an exceptional job with this. I LOVE his Kane. He’s wonderful. My favorite scene is the “I’m not a booty call” scene. He does the emotion so perfectly! He even manages to give all of Dex’s family their own unique voices – including the women!

Again, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s absolutely best if read in the series but can totally stand on its own without any problem whatsoever.

6 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

To buy

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5048

 

The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye Narrated by Dave Gillies

ShearingGun[The]AUDMEDBlurb
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 of book found here:

http://kimichanexperience.com/shearing-gun-renae-kaye/

Audio:

Having David Gillies read this was outstanding! He did an amazing job with it and I really loved listening to his accent since this book was so FULL of local flavor.
I absolutely think this added to the overall experience and made a great book that much more enjoyable!

6 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for review

Dreampsinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6857

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts by Charlie Cochet

BewareOfGeeksBlurb

Julian “Quinn” Quinetro, a gruff, tough Miami SWAT officer, has been injured on the job, and all he’s looking for is a little peace and quiet to recover—difficult to achieve with his large Cuban family. An adventure in picking up his prescriptions puts him in the path of his geeky, brownie-baking neighbor, Spencer Morgan. Spencer sweeps into Quinn’s life like a tropical storm of sunshine and rainbows. Not surprisingly, it’s chaos at first sight. Quinn’s in need of a little tender loving care, and Spencer decides he’s just the man for the job. Their very different lives might clash, but they might also find some common ground—and maybe more.

 

Review

Spencer is a socially awkward, comic-book-loving, computer nerd who works from home. He’s been secretly crushing on his super-hot SWAT team neighbor for the last year and now that the guy’s injured he figures it’s his chance to be “friendly”.

Quinn is a no-nonsense, kinda grumpy guy who isn’t really looking for a relationship. He’s never even noticed Spencer before and now the guy is showing up all over the place.

After a disastrous “first” meeting, they quickly become friends. When Quinn’s loving but meddlesome family butts in AND his sometimes dickish friends get involved things move from friends to “more”, but can it last and is it real or just a game to Quinn while he’s laid up?

**

First I have to say that I love, love, love, LOVE Charlie Cochet. I’m a huge fan. So I was psyched to see a contemporary short of hers coming out and devoured it right away.

I love the humor, the characters, and the set-up. Geek meets God. God’s a grumpy-ass and Geek is too-cute-for-words.

What I think was missing in this story is length. I know, I know. People always say they want more, more, more. But really, in this case I did think it was necessary.

I wanted the conversion from pesky neighbor to friend to be slower. As it stands, one big meal and Quinn is spilling all his feelings and Spencer is telling his life story. I wanted Quinn to be reticent for a longer period of time, forcing Spencer to really make the effort.

Second, there was so much wonderful detail that kind of got squished in the middle and left alone. Quinn’s family is hysterical! I love them! I wanted more time with the mother plotting to get Quinn and Spencer together. More inappropriate blurts from the father. More matchmaking from the brother-in-law.

Third, I was sort-of confused by the direction the sexual nature of the relationship went. Once there was kissing there was off page “making out” for days? Weeks? Then the final scene – definitely HOT – but the only time we see them in that way. It felt kinda disjointed and strange to not see the physical side of their relationship develop more organically.

Fourth, the climactic final scene. Ugh! I wanted to punch Javier square in his… well face is fine but really?!? What an a-hole! I was glad Quinn got him a good one, but I didn’t understand his motivation at all! I also didn’t think Spencer would have gone for the whole stripping thing to begin with and once he saw a room full of people – he’d have been out of there! But he stayed then there was the Misunderstanding (capital M) and a quick make up scene.

If we’re going to have a Big Misunderstanding, give it time to fester and have the boy do some real groveling. But since the whole stripper thing kind of felt like left field I’m not sure how that would have even worked out.

So… on the one hand I loved so much of the story and thought it was terribly cute and sweet but knowing how well Charlie can create full and well drawn out stories I was a bit let down. Maybe if I’d never read anything else by her I would have been satisfied, but even her Christmasy short stories seemed more well-rounded than this did.

I still liked it and would recommend it and give it 3.5 of 5 stars.

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(Purchased for review)

To Buy

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6637

Chase in Shadow (Johnnies #1) Audiobook by Amy Lane Narrated by Sean Crisden

ChaseinShadowAudMEDBlurb

Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.

Nobody knows the real Chase.

Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.

Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay—where the number of lovers doesn’t matter as long as the come-shot’s good—but if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.

Review

Wow. Okay. First, if you haven’t read an Amy Lane book and you are starting with this series – take heed and have plenty of tissues on hand!

Amy can write fantastical fantasy with crazy and sometimes funny figures, she can write humorous contemporary romance with quirky and quant characters, and she can write heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, hanky-shredding, angst-filled stories that rip your heart out and make it bleed.

This is that last kind.

But – and this is HUGE – she gives you a tremendous pay out. This is important. In her stories she will absolutely drag your heart out through your nostrils but then she mends it, patches it up, and fluffs it with so much caring and tenderness and purely sweet and luscious goodness that when it goes back into your chest (usually at the end) it feels so much better than when you started.

In this series we have Johnnie (who we hear from in his own story Black John) a director of gay pornography. He runs a respectable shop, no taking advantage of the models, clean, safe, etcetera – but it’s porn. Now it’s often called gay for pay, but the so-called straight guys… not always so straight.

That’s where Chase comes in. Chase is gay but he “can’t be”. He has had a horrible childhood – one where he sees his own mother’s suicide and lives with a father who somehow blames Chase for her death.

He turns to porn to make money, though he has a girlfriend he “loves” and wants to be with. He takes on the name Chance and finds his true home with Johnnies.

There Chance meets Tango. Tango is really Tommy, and Tango/Tommy has no problem being gay. They hook up and find an immediate love connection. But Tommy can’t take it that Chase continues to stay with the girlfriend and internalizes his own pain with a horrible eating disorder.

(I warned you – Angst. City.)

We know from early on in the story that Chase attempts suicide. The story explains the whys and the hows and then the what happens next.

Mercy, Chase’s girlfriend is not particularly vilified – although her decision at the end strikes me as not necessarily in line with the rest of her persona and is particularly harsh given the circumstances.

Chase and Tommy are a match made in heaven – both kinda screwed up but oh so passionate. It’s wonderful to watch them fall in love and it was absolutely horrible to watch each of them fall apart as a result of this love.

We also get to meet the cast of characters that fill the coming books and that, too, is fascinating.

I really loved how Amy was able to really get into Chase’s head and show us that in his mind he had NO CHOICE but to do what he did but then – at the last frickin’ moment – it all got so clear for him.

The time spent in the psych ward was hard to read and maybe drug a bit, but I think it helped to really cement the huge change in direction that occurred in Chase’s thinking.

Like I said at the beginning – Amy knows how to bring on the Angst (with a capital A) – but she also brings you back down with an incredible happy ending – one that we get to see develop in the next books even more.

I absolutely love this book, this series and the author. (FWIW this is my second favorite book in the series – Dex is my favorite – but they are all so dang good!)

Audio:

Sean Crisden is a master! I love all his narrations and this was one of the first I’d listened to. He makes a point of keeping all the various characters separate which is a huge undertaking in this series. We end up with a total of 4 couples and lots of side characters and they all are voiced somewhat differently. So giant Kudos there! He also has a way of making the emotion feel so authentic. He does “perform” the stories – not merely read them.

6 of 5 stars

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To Buy

Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4948